Health-care program extended for vets at St. Rose

(Great Bend, Kas.) - There for a little while, St. Rose Ambulatory & Surgery Center physicians didn't know if a popular primary-care program for military veterans would continue.

But now they know ARCH has been given at least a two-year extension and encourage even more local and area vets to become involved.

ARCH, which stands for Access Received Closer to Home, has been available at St. Rose for about 18 months. So far, approximately 100 vets participate.

James McReynolds, M.D., cares for many St. Rose ARCH patients and hopes the numbers continue to grow. His medical practice is at Great Bend Internists on St. Roses first floor.

I encourage veterans to chat with people at the VFW or American Legion, Dr. McReynolds suggested. There are lots of people there with direct experience who can tell others about ARCH.

The biggest advantage, McReynolds continued, is that primary-care services are offered close to home. Long car rides, and the associated expense and stress are not necessary in many instances.

McReynolds also noted he has received nothing but positive feedback from veterans about ARCH.

Nobody complains of any downside, he commented. It is very popular and I am pleased the program has been extended. All Americans owe it to people who served in our military to make their health care more, rather than less, accessible.

ARCH was set to expire in September but was extended in each of its five pilot sites. St. Rose participates through the Pratt pilot location.

Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran, member of the Senate Veterans Affairs and Senate Appropriations committees, played an instrumental role in starting and extending ARCH.

The two-year extension is included in the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act that was signed into law in August.

St. Rose and its physicians have been successfully treating veterans in central Kansas through ARCH, Sen. Moran said. It is gratifying they went through the steps to become involved.

Forty-one percent of all veterans enrolled in the Veterans Administration (VA) health-care system live in rural areas and many continue to struggle with access to quality health care close to home, Sen. Moran commented.

Kansans understand this all too well since the average driving time to a VA facility is two hours, he said. To help resolve this issue, I worked to increase access to health care for rural veterans through ARCH. Veterans are overwhelmingly satisfied with the program.

The Senator added that he hopes VA Secretary Bob McDonald will authorize the expansion of ARCH to serve all of Kansas.

Every veteran deserves access to health-care services, regardless of where they call home, he said.

St. Rose is part of Centura Health, which connects individuals and families across western Kansas and Colorado with more than 6,000 physicians, 15 hospitals, seven senior-living communities, physician practices and clinics, and home-care and hospice services.