New military healthcare program announced for MercyOne

Published: May. 26, 2022 at 4:38 PM CDT
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SIOUX CITY (KTIV) - From now on, when veterans show up at a MercyOne healthcare facility, they’ll be asked if they served in the armed forces.

It may not seem like a big deal. But the acknowledgment goes a long way.

“Knowing that they’re going to get that specialized, that care that, you know, comes along with the unique needs of being a military member or a veteran. So I think I think it’ll mean a lot,” said Col. Adam Carlson.

To launch MercyOne’s new “Military and Veterans Health Care” program, employees received training on some of the challenges faced by those who serve.

The training employees received included questions for specific veterans. For those who served in Vietnam, providers may ask about agent orange. For those who served in Afghanistan, patients may be asked about IEDs.

“Just simply by asking, what branch of the military did you serve in? What was your job in the military? It starts a dialogue with those individuals, which opens them to the reception of you and your staff as well,” said Tonja Winekauf, a nurse practitioner and service member.

Beth Hughes, MercyOne Western Iowa President, says the training even opened her eyes. Sometimes, Hughes says, veterans and service members have physical and mental ailments, civilians can’t understand.

“They’re here for you know, any number of things and we don’t incorporate that kind of history or their current circumstance into their care,” said Hughes.

The program does not replace the VA and applies to patients who use MercyOne facilities.

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