Expanding Women's Health - Washington DC VA Medical Center
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Expanding Women's Health

Women Veterans Program Manager speaking to a woman Veteran in an exam room.

Women Veterans Program Manager speaking to a woman Veteran in an exam room.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021
May is Women's Health Month

With the help of a timely Joint Incentive Fund (JIF) with the Department of Defense, the Washington DC Veterans Affairs Medical Center's Women's Health Clinic is expanding its health care footprint for women Veterans in the District of Columbia and areas of Maryland and Virginia.

According to Dr. Robin Peck, the Women's Health Medical Director at the DC VA Medical Center, the JIF has been a gamechanger for innovating women Veterans' health care. The partnership allows Veterans expanded access to high quality health care. With shared resources, women Veterans are able to receive health services VA may not have offered and receive those services closer to their home.

Dr. Peck explains, “The JIF with the DoD has allowed the DC VA Medical Center team to bring gynecological services to our newest VA community-based outpatient clinics (CBOC) in Maryland, as well as expand our services for women Veterans in the DC-area.”

“We recently welcomed Helen (Angel) Hannah, a GYN Nurse Practitioner, who sees women Veterans one day per week at our VA community clinics in Montgomery County and Charlotte Hall, Maryland. Nurse Practitioner Hannah is able to perform office procedures such as endometrial biopsies and the follow-up colposcopy needed after an abnormal Pap smear as well as place intrauterine devices. Now, these more common women’s health procedures are more accessible.”

The JIF allows for DoD GYN providers to rotate to VA CBOCs and provide surgical consultation as needed. Should women Veterans need to have GYN surgery, they now have access to DoD physicians Dr. Earnest Lockrow and Dr. Candice Jones-Cox. The partnership also offers women Veterans access to DoD health care facilities and GYN subspecialities such as urogynecology and gynecology oncology. Dr. Peck notes, "It's a partnership that we plan to maintain long term."

With all the new space at the 17,000 square foot CBOC in Charlotte Hall, Maryland, the Women’s Health Program has added a general and breast surgeon to the team, Dr. Meredith G. Garrett. Both Nurse Practitioner Hannah and Dr. Garrett are Veterans themselves. They fully understand women Veterans and their unique needs and have knowledge of their deployments, exposures, disabilities and benefits.

"I loved my time as a U.S. Army surgeon," said Dr. Garrett. "It was a unique opportunity to have the best training, serve military members around the world, and cement life-long relationships with other Soldiers and Veterans." She further explains how women Veterans have different needs both medically and socially.

"Improving health care for women Veterans is vital and the Women’s Health Clinic is a customized resource for them to heal and find comfort. I am truly honored to be a part of such a great system,” said Dr. Garrett. A community doctor might not even ask about a patient’s military service as part of their intake history. “As VA doctors, we’ve received special training to better understand those we serve."

DC VA Medical Center is striving to become women Veterans' health care provider of choice by offering a higher level of subspecialty care from the DoD health care system as well as specialized VA services closer to their homes.

Women Veterans seeking gender-specific health care should start by contacting their VA Primary Care Provider using MyHealtheVet or scheduling an appointment by calling 202-745-8000, option 2. May is Women's Health Month and now is a great time to take control of your health. The DC VA Medical Center's Women's Health Team is working to ensure you have a care plan with the right person at the right location.

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