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NCServes kiosk to aid veterans at Haywood Regional Fitness Center

Mountaineer - 3/14/2019

March 13-- Mar. 13--A new catch-all service directory is available to Haywood County veterans, thanks to a recently installed kiosk at the Haywood Regional Fitness Center as part of a collaborative program between NCServes and Haywood Regional Medical Center.

The kiosk provides access for veterans to a service that's able to match them up with any of almost 100 service providers able to assist with anything from mental and behavioral health to dentistry and heating assistance.

"We're able to partner with 86 different partners across North Carolina to give them an array of services," said Brandon Wilson, Assistant Director for Service Coordination with NCServes. "From legal, to education, needing their power back on to health care and mental health. Not every veteran that returns home has access to VA medical services."

Those partners include both local and regional groups, including the Haywood County Veterans Service Office, Haywood Vocational Opportunities, Haywood Pathways Center, Haywood Christian Ministries, Haywood Community College and numerous other partners inside the county.

The network also provides assistance to veterans' support system as well, a service that isn't always included in other programs that assist veterans or provide care.

"What makes this project unique is we don't just help veterans, we help their family members and their caregivers," Wilson said. "We understand through this model that just investing in the one person isn't really good enough. We have to address the whole family."

With the diverse offerings coordinated through NCServes, Wilson said the organization has reported an 84 percent success rate in providing positive outcomes through the network.

The organization has found veterans in Haywood County struggle primarily with housing, VA benefits and healthcare, and have created branches of the network that deal with each of those issues from multiple angles.

The kiosk is the next step in an existing partnership between the hospital, NCServes and Unite Us, a New York-based tech company specializing in software geared toward assessing and improving social determinants of health.

Chief Nursing Officer Susan Mahoney said the hospital has been tapped in to the network for a while now, with hospital staff helping veterans interface with the NCServes providers.

"Several months ago, we went ahead and implemented several of these iPads in our emergency room and our behavioral health ward," Mahoney said. "If somebody does have a need and they've served, they're actually able to tap in and send emails so Brandon and his team are able to assist."

One of the many benefits of the system, Wilson said, is NCServes' ability to act as an advocate for the veterans they work with. Whereas a veteran might get discouraged after trying to navigate the system and being turned away from several providers, NCServes is able to find the correct service providers more efficiently and without the added stress of seeking care while dealing with the issues that necessitate it.

"Instead of telling that individual 'no,' the only person they're telling 'no' to is my team. That's fine," Wilson said. "We scratch our hear and say, 'who else in the community can provide that need?' It might be the local VFW post, it might be the DAV or DSS. It might be the Pathways Center, or it might be the Wounded Warriors Project. We look to identify the need, then we match them up."

Haywood Regional Medical Center CEO Rod Harkleroad said he welcomed the new opportunity for the hospital to serve the nearly 6,000 veterans currently living in Haywood County.

"That's what we want to be able to do -- they've served our country and done great things for us, and we're excited to have this here for them," Harkleroad said. "Hopefully this way they can find resources close to home, especially with the bottleneck they continue to find sometimes with the VA. This will give them the opportunity to maybe have care here."

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(c)2019 The Mountaineer (Waynesville, N.C.)

Visit The Mountaineer (Waynesville, N.C.) at themountaineer.villagesoup.com

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