Veterans living in South Jersey will have a new option for getting health care and treatment through the Veteran’s Assistance program.A new $1.4 million dollar community based outpatient veteran’s facility in Northfield is being opened to replace the Ventnor clinic in Atlantic County.  Second district Congressman Frank LoBiondo attended the ribbon cutting ceremony along with officials from officials from the VA Medical Center in Wilmington Delaware.

LoBiondo says the new facility will provide state of the art care to veterans in the South Jersey region of the state.  The location will can be reached by most major bus routes and roads in Atlantic County and there will be a bus that transports South Jersey veterans to the partner VA Medical Center in Wilmington when more complex procedures need to be done.

One of the procedures LoBiondo is most excited about is tele-medicine, where veterans who go to the Northfield facility will be able to be examined by a doctor from another VA facility in real time and respond to any questions or concerns the patient may have. The other advancement LoBiondo is pleased with is a pilot program being run in conjunction with the Wilmington VA facility that allows patients to have important medical technology with them at their home.

“Let’s say a veteran has diabetes, they’ll have certain vitals that are checked every day the information is automatically sent back to the VA facility and if any of the numbers are not within the parameters they should be, then the VA will immediately contact the veterans they will get a doctor on the line with a veteran. ”

According to LoBiondo the facility has been several years in the making and has suffered some hiccups along the way.

“Some years we’ve had the approvals and not the money and other years we’ve had the money but not the approvals. ”

There have been efforts on a state legislative level to build a full scale Veterans Hospital to serve the South Jersey residents, however it has failed to develop. LoBiondo says that often times veterans fail to register with the VA, which means they aren’t counted.

“We have many many many veterans , thousands of veterans, but for whatever reason are not enrolled in the VA system. ” he notes that improper representation causes problems for the VA when they figure out where to establish new facilities. “It hurts our ability to convince the VA that we have a need and they should look at additional services.”

LoBiondo also notes that one of the initiatives he has been trying to push through legislation is a pilot program which would allow veterans to use their benefits at a medical provider of their choosing, and have the VA pick up the tab instead of having to construct new facilities specific for them.

“I think for the veterans’ quality of care for the services, for their health, this would be fantastic. I believe it would be cost effective, I’ve been trying to get it into a pilot program unfortunately not enough of my colleagues are in agreement with me.”

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