Milwaukee VA Medical Center
Union Grove program combines care, convenience
Even when he was still driving, it was difficult for Kenneth Schmitt to load his power wheelchair into his car and navigate the rural roads of southeastern Wisconsin to the nearest VA facility.
Schmitt, who moved with his family when he was 6 years old to a farm near Elkhorn where he still lives, no longer drives but still receives VA medical care through Home Based Primary Care, an at-home primary care program for Veterans with complex medical, social and cognitive disorders for whom routine clinic-based care is not effective.
Schmitt receives his primary care at home through the Union Grove VA Clinic, which is about 40 miles south of Milwaukee. The Union Grove clinic, which opened in 1998 and moved to its current location in 2015, serves about 3,500 Veterans each year. The clinic offers primary care, mental health care, telehealth, phlebotomy with limited lab services and referrals to special care at the Milwaukee VA Medical Center, in addition to the Home Based Primary Care.
"We are a primary care clinic that goes out to the Veterans homes," said Angela Gard, assistant nurse manger of community based care at the Milwaukee VA. “We have staff that works out of the Union Grove clinic.”
The multidisciplinary team consists of a primary care provider, medical director, pharmacist, RN Case Manager, social worker, registered dietician, psychologist and an occupational therapist. HBPC provides cost effective primary care services in the home for Veterans as they face the challenges of disability, aging, and chronic disease.
“It works really well for Mr. Schmitt, who lives out in the country,” said Farrah Mosley, an RN who does Home Based Primary Care from the Union Grove clinic.
“For example, Mr. Schmitt, is a diabetic,” Mosley said. “So, the dietician comes in and completes a nutrition assessment and collaborates with the Veteran to develop a plan of care with goals and outcomes. He has done really well with it and he has really brought his numbers down.”
Mosley said she visits Schmitt every four to five weeks, but the schedule varies to meet the needs of each patient.
Schmitt, who was an ejection seat technician in the Marines, said he appreciates both the care and the convenience offered by the program.
“I have been without a license for almost two years now,” Schmitt said. “Before that I had a power wheelchair that I loaded in my car, but it was so stressful. Even if someone was trying to help, it would just wear me down. That helped a lot, but it was so hard. By the time I would get back home, I was done for. Takes away a lot of stress.”
Gard said Home Based Primary Care also allows Veterans to remain in familiar and comfortable surroundings.to maximize their function, minimize institutionalization, and maintain quality of life.
“We try to keep people in their houses longer instead of going to a nursing home. They’ve lived there forever. It’s not very often that they want to move.”