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VA Medical Center, Mountain Home cemetery continue to grow and improve

Becky Campbell • Mar 12, 2018 at 12:33 PM

The VA Medical Center’s Mountain Home has achieved a multitude of accomplishments since being established in the early 1900s, and the current director has committed to continuing that record.

“I believe the Mountain Home VA Healthcare System has the potential to be the best health care system in the country,” VAMC Director Dean Borsos said.

“We have a team of dedicated staff who do their best each day to take care of our veterans, America’s heroes. The care we provide is focused on high-quality standards and outcomes, and continues to get better every day.

“With the implementation of some of these initiatives, along with our expansion of services, we continue to improve upon our high level of commitment to our veterans.”

Recent improvements and additions on the VA Medical Center campus include:

Parking Garage

“The next phase for the parking garage would add two additional floors and a covered skybridge that would enter the Domiciliary lobby,” said Kristen Schabert, public information officer for the VAMC.

“This new phase would add another 240 parking spaces. We have already submitted the request through our VA capital planning process, but have not received approval yet.”

Tele-ICU

The VAMC has previously implemented tele-health programs, but the tele-ICU is new, and will supplement a renovated ICU area.

“A 13-bed Intensive Care Unit will open the second week of March,” Schabert said. “This expanded and renovated space will offer state-of-the-art equipment, optimizing the highest quality of care possible for our veterans. Additionally, tele-ICU services will be utilized. This will enhance patient care and patient safety for all ICU patients.

“Tele-ICU allows for immediate and real-time intervention by a board-certified critical care specialist,” Schabert said. “ICUs of smaller size often require supplementation of existing staff to ensure safe and quality care. Tele-ICU allows this to happen by incorporating 24/7 monitoring and visualization of ICU patients.”

Whole Health Initiative

Schabert said the Whole Health Initiative is a “new concept that will center on the goals and needs of the veteran. It is an approach to health care that empowers and equips people to take charge of their health and well-being and live their life to the fullest.”

“Some goals of the whole health initiative include incorporating health care such as chiropractic visits and acupuncture with pain management, for example.”

While Whole Health is not a result of the opioid-reduction program, it is one way in which the VAMC is approaching opioid reduction.

WECARE and Own the Moment

“Both of these initiatives fall under the VA’s new Veterans Experience Office. Its goal is to provide a consistent, exceptional experience that builds trust and confidence with veterans and their families and caregivers.

“This will include more positive interactions and open and effective lines of communications between staff and veterans.

The WECARE rounding will involve leadership speaking directly, one-on-one, with patients and staff and asking specific questions about their experiences; welcoming them, connecting with them, listening to their concerns and ideas, and having an opportunity to respond to those concerns and ideas either on the spot or allowing for follow-up to take place,” Shabert said.

It isn’t just living veterans who receive attention at the VA. Those who pass are honored and remembered in many ways, including the Mountain Home National Cemetery and a newly completed expansion area for burial spots.

Along East Lake Drive, entering the VA campus from State of Franklin, there are several new buildings for the Mountain Home National Cemetery administration and committal shelter. The rolling landscape that was once open space is now home to a 10-acre expansion for the cemetery because the original location near West Market Street is nearly full.

The expansion includes spaces for 1,400 regular gravesites and 700 spots for cremains. Concrete liners are already in place and ready for burials, which Walker said would begin at the new site next year.

The current cemetery has space for about 48 cremated remains and 530 casket grave sites. Buildings on the site include administrative offices, a maintenance facility and a committal shelter.

After phase one is complete, phase two work will begin at the original cemetery site and will include in-ground irrigation and a new information building for grave locations, restrooms and water fountains.

Mountain Home opened in 1903 with its 36 French Renaissance-style buildings. The Mountain Home Branch of the National Homes was the ninth, and last, of its kind funded by Congress to care for Union veterans of the Civil War.

In 1973, it was transferred to the Veterans Administration, and the home cemetery became a national cemetery. In 2011 it was designated as part of the Mountain Home Branch-National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers National Historic Landmark district.

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