New Women’s Health Clinic at the Sioux Falls VA Medical Center
By Shirley Redmond and Charlotte McGrath
Although most VAs, including the Sioux Falls VA Medical Center, were built to care primarily for men, women now represent about 30 percent of post-9/11 Veterans. Even though some may not consider themselves to be Veterans because they did not serve overseas or were not in combat, the Department of Veterans Affairs is making an effort to let these women know it is there for them, too.
As part of its effort to be more welcoming and acknowledging of women Veterans, the Sioux Falls VA opened a new Women’s Health Clinic at the end of August. It joins more than two dozen VA women’s health centers that have opened across the country in the past five years with equitable access to high quality comprehensive healthcare.
A group of women Veterans provided input for the design, look, and feel of the local clinic, which is on the south wing of first floor of the medical center. The environment reflects their request for a clinic focused on women only in a separate, yet convenient, location with its own waiting area and a team of all female providers.
VA uses a team concept of care, and women are assigned a specialized women’s health provider, RN, LPN, and scheduler. Margaret Devick, MD and Lyndsey Mayer, Nurse Practitioner, are the clinic’s primary care providers. Shelley Morrison, MD, gynecologist will join the group on October 1.
Additionally, women Veterans have access to a dietician, pharmacist, mental health professional, and social worker as part of their team. Working for and with the Veterans, the team develops a personalized health plan to help each Veteran achieve her goals. The team is working to provide timely, high-quality, comprehensive health care services in a sensitive and healing environment.
VA also has a breast surgeon and plastic surgeon on staff. Same day, after hours (early morning, late afternoon), and Saturday morning appointments are available. VA partners with community providers for obstetric care, infertility services, and mammography. Inpatient care, as well as long-term care and in-home care are also part of services available to Veterans.
- Sioux Falls VA Health Care System has seen the number of women Veteran users nearly double since 2007 (from 877 to 1673).
- There are approximately 7000 women Veterans in the area served by the Sioux Falls VA Health Care System - Eastern South Dakota, Northwestern Iowa, and Southwestern Minnesota.
- Approximately 30 percent of these women receive VA medical care, with VA’s goal to provide care to 50 percent of them by 2020.
- Active duty and recruiting data project the percentage of women Veterans to increase to almost 16 percent of the entire Veteran population by 2040.