Memorial Day and Always: Veteran Patient Navigators Make a Difference for Jefferson Health – New Jersey Patients
Washington Township, NJ (May 23, 2018) – Since 2015, several New Jersey Hospital Association-trained Veteran Healthcare Navigators have worked collaboratively with Jefferson Health in New Jersey to ensure that patients who have served, or are still active military personnel, receive healthcare services they need. The program continues to grow and address healthcare needs of this often-underserved patient population.
The Garden State is home to more than 428,000 veterans, and for many of them, access to healthcare and behavioral health services is a significant issue. Nearly 19,200 N.J. veterans lack health insurance, and only 26.8 percent are registered to receive care from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Several veterans from throughout the state trained to serve their fellow service members as Healthcare Navigators are available at Jefferson Health’s three New Jersey hospitals. These navigators focus on helping veterans and active military personnel, identified through hospital staff, with everything from medical insurance enrollment to referral for health screenings, as well as access to behavioral health programs and other social services, as needed. These veteran navigators can even accompany veterans to intake appointments as support.
“The navigators have done everything from helping veterans get a primary care doctor to helping them get a haircut .. and in one case, helping a veteran with dementia who ended up at our hospital without identification get back to his home in Pennsylvania,” said Patricia Madden, MSN, BSN, Corporate Director of Nursing at Jefferson Washington Township Hospital, who works closely with the veteran team members, who are on call round-the-clock. “There’s a true kinship there and a commitment to honoring their fellow veterans. Our entire healthcare team, with the help of these veteran navigators, are committed to helping ensure that our New Jersey veterans don’t fall through the cracks.”
The NJHA-employed veterans who serve as Navigators are trained as Community Health Coaches and in Mental Health First Aid, according to Mary Ditri, DHA, Director of Professional Practice with the NJHA, meaning they “bring not only their expertise and their knowledge as veterans, but also the more formal healthcare-related training to the table.” Community members seeking more information about this program can contact toll-free 1-877-4-CARE-NJ (1-877-422-7365).
Shown here at Jefferson Washington Township’s Emergency Department are, from left: NJHA’s Mary Ditri; veterans Don Sanford, Frank Fahr, Michael Mimms, EdD; Norm Glover, Jaye Silver, PhD; and Jefferson Washington Township Hospital’s Patricia Madden.