The Hillsdale County Veterans Coalition has created a plan to improve access to healthcare for local vets, by bringing together HIllsdale Hospital, the VA Hospital in Ann Arbor and Lifeways. 

According to a press release, The Coalition identified a critical community need when the Hillsdale City Police Department reached out to then coalition leader, Corey Murray, to assist with serving a Veteran in crisis. –During the interaction, it was clear there was a gap in the process and resources needed to link Veterans with VA Healthcare. 

In response, the Veterans Coalition developed an Emergency Management Workgroup to explore the issues, including care navigation and transportation between the VA and Hillsdale Hospital. 

The workgroup was tasked with finding strategies to diminish the barriers. Leadership from Hillsdale Hospital Emergency Department, LifeWays Crisis Team, and Ann Arbor VA work together on the project. A standard operating procedure was developed–It went into effect in mid November, allowing Hillsdale Hospital to more seamlessly transfer Veterans to VA Care for medical and psychiatric treatment.

Valerie Hepker is the Clinical Manager of Emergency Services at Hillsdale Hospital–She said “there is a significant need for services in Hillsdale County, especially for our Veterans. As communities across the country, including Hillsdale, grapple with shortages in EMS care, it has become increasingly more difficult to secure medical transport for patients–especially those with mental health needs.

During development of the plan, VA’s Mobility Manager, Darel Winslow, worked to increase access to interfacility transportation for Veterans in Hillsdale County. 

Winslow said “VA Ann Arbor continually looks for innovative ways to partner with the community to meet the needs of ‘all those who have served.’ 


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