July 31, 2012

WBRC Technology Update: TeleHealth System

A patient and his medical provider communicate via Video Technology Conferencing (VTC).
WBRC excitedly moves another step forward into applying technology for “providing the right care in the right place at the right time” to our veterans and active duty service members.

The VA initiative to increase access to care services for those living in rural and medically under-served areas is now being explored and developed at the WBRC for those with visual impairment and blind through the use of the “TeleHealth” programs.

Currently offered in established programs in TeleAudiology, TeleCardiology, Tele-SCI/D-Spinal Cord Injury/Disorder, and PolyTrauma Network (PTN) and others, the use of electronic devices such as computers, and videoconferencing, allows healthcare interventions, examinations and timely contact with providers for care of veterans in different locations.  These electronic devices can eliminate unnecessary travel to clinics or hospitals.

Many low vision clinics and providers offer electronic transmission of pictures of retinal examinations of a patient in one place to examination and diagnosis by an optometrist or ophthalmologist at a different location.  An expansion of application of this type of technology is now being developed for other care service needs of the visually impaired or blind related to visual diagnosis to maintain maximum independence and maximum self care management of the eye disorder in conjunction with other medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and medication management.  Adaptive accessibility of  “TeleHealth “  programs is being explored for ease of use by the visually impaired or blind veteran.

WBRC is planning to incorporate their new TeleHealth system in a variety of ways such as including VIST coordinators and/or family members into treatment planning meetings, family training programs, post-discharge consults, and employee training to name a few.  If you have any ideas as to how the use of technology available in TeleHealth could help benefit you or those veterans you know who are visual impaired or blind, or if you want to learn more about “TeleHealth” contact WBRC Nurse Manager Richard Wing RN at richard.wing@va.gov or call WBRC 650-493-5000, select Menlo Park, then enter ext. 24627.

Written by: Richard Wing, WBRC Nurse Manager

July 17, 2012

Building 48 Demolition Begins

Front of building pictured with 'B' wing demolished, windows removed, rubble, and heavy equipment in the foreground.
Picture: The front entrance of building 48 after demolition begins. 
Building 48, former home to the Western Blind Rehabilitation Center located at the VAPAHCS Palo Alto Campus has entered the demolition phase.  The building, pictured above with heavy construction equipment and the former 'B' wing demolished, has been slated for demolition in order to begin construction of the new Polytrauma and Blind Rehabilitation Center.

Rendering of front entrance of planned building at dusk.
Image: Polytrauma and Blind Center rendering for new construction.

This will be VA’s first and only Polytrauma Rehabilitation Center to be combined with a Blind Rehabilitation Center.  At 174,000 square feet, this new facility is the largest consolidated rehabilitation center in VA.  The Rehabilitation Center includes 24 beds for the polytrauma program, 32 beds for the blind rehabilitation program, and 12 beds for the polytrauma transitional rehabilitation program.  The center will also have an outpatient physical therapy and occupational therapy clinic, an outpatient physical medicine and rehabilitation clinic, and clinical programs for Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom Veterans.  Construction of the new center is anticipated to be completed in August of 2014.

CLICK HERE to view the VA News Release 

CLICK HERE to view the VAPAHCS Construction Update Website 

July 16, 2012

Caring for Caregivers

By: Simone Riente, ASW, CBIS, WBRC Social Worker

Photo: A bonsai tree with exposed roots being held in two hands
Taking care of a loved one has become a task for a growing number of people.  Caregivers are expected to function competently as informal extensions of our healthcare system assisting with activities of daily living, providing medical and emotional support, and also making the home environment accessible, safe, and comfortable.  Caregivers are rarely  compensated, often receive little positive reinforcement and support, and tend to neglect their own needs and interests. Care giving can be a very  rewarding experience; however, caregiver depression and distress are commonly experienced.  Caregivers are often hesitant to reach out for  support because they feel guilty or think it may appear as weakness, carelessness, or self-centeredness. As a  caregiver it is crucial not to put your own needs and feelings aside because you’re trying to help your loved one cope with an illness or disability.

It is important to take a moment and S.T.O.P. what you are doing: 

Seek out opportunities for support,

Take time for things you enjoy,

Opt for help whenever you can, &

Prioritize your own needs. 

The VA has taken major steps in providing more support and resources for those caring for our veterans. The VA Caregiver Support website http://www.paloalto.va.gov/caregiver.asp provides information on the VA’s General Caregiver Program and Family Caregiver Program, as well as  various fact sheets and contact information for our local Caregiver Support Coordinator. The phone number for the National VA Caregiver Support Line is 1-855-260-3274.

July 10, 2012

New Issue of WBRC Newsletter Available Via Web

Image: Front Page of the WBRC Annual Review

The WBRC Annual Review 2011-2012 Newsletter is now available on the web in both a PDF and Text Only format.  This issue of the WBRC Newsletter reviews the 2011-2012 fiscal year including the WBRC's move to Menlo Park, Alumni and Staff News, 2011 WBRC Demographics, articles by WBRC Staff, and more.  The newsletter will be archived on this blog on the right hand side menu under 'WBRC NEWSLETTERS'.    

Printed copies of this newsletter will be available in the coming weeks.  E-Mail summer.beasley-hoffman@va.gov or call the main WBRC line at (650) 614-9952 to be added to our mailing list or request a copy (while supplies last).

July 9, 2012

WBRC Hosts Open House

The Western Blind Rehabilitation Center (WBRC) recently hosted an Open House Event for local Alumni, invited VAPAHCS Employees, and VA Blind Rehabilitation Staff in Northern California.  The event included 60-minute group tours of the new center which incorporated education about each skill area, prosthetics, and specialty programs.  The event also included light refreshments and a slideshow of WBRC through the years.  

Photo Collage, Photo Information Follows in Paragraph Below
Photos of the WBRC Open House, details follow below.
WBRC Open House photographs clockwise from top left: John Kingston educates a group on the CNVR  program and demonstrates use of the Neuro Vision Technology light system; Rosalyn Conanan orients VA staff using a tactile map of the new building; Kristen Collins educates a group on adaptive medical equipment; Cory Tschogl (right) and Daniel Penrod (left) demonstrate visual aids and provide written materials to their tour. 

July 3, 2012

New WBRC Admissions Coordinator Named

WBRC Admissions Coordinator
Photo: Rosalyn Conanan, WBRC Admissions Coordinator
WBRC is proud to announce that Ms. Rosalyn Conanan has accepted the position of WBRC Admissions Coordinator.  Ms. Conanan graduated with a Master’s Degree in Special Education, Emphasis on Orientation and Mobility from San Francisco State University in 2008.  She completed her Orientation and Mobility internship at the WBRC prior to graduating.  

Ms. Conanan joined the WBRC as an Orientation and Mobility Blind Rehabilitation Specialist in 2009.  Ms. Conanan transitioned to her role as WBRC Admissions Coordinator on May 7th, 2012. 

In the Job Posting Announcement written by the selection committee she was described as follows:
“Since 2009, Ms. Conanan established a strong foundation of collaboration, customer service excellence and true insight to the needs of visually impaired veterans as a Orientation & Mobility Specialist.  In addition, Ms. Conanan is an active member of the WBRC Communication Committee, Technology Committee, Accessibility Committee, and CARF Steering Committee.”

Ms. Conanan can be contacted via the information below.

Phone: 650-493-5000 ext. 24619

Phone: 650-614-9952

Fax: 650-614-8450

Attn: Rosalyn Conanan, Admissions Coordinator
Western Blind Rehabilitation Center
VA Palo Alto Health Care System (640/124)
Menlo Park Division
795 Willow Road Bldg T-365
Menlo Park, CA 94025

4th of July Holiday Announcement

Photo: a close shot of an American Flag rippling in the breeze

The Western Blind Rehabilitation Center will be closed for business on July 4th, 2012. 

The RN station may be reached by calling:
(650) 493-5000
selecting 1, then entering 24623
selecting 2, then entering 24823

You may also leave a message at the WBRC Direct Line at:
(650) 614-9952

Please have a happy and safe 4th of July Holiday. 

July 1, 2012

July VIST Group Meetings Scheduled for Palo Alto and Stockton

Image: VIST Logo
The Visual Impairment Services Team (VIST) group is open to all veterans, Active-Duty Service Members, family members and those interested in promoting the community of B/VI veterans in the region are welcome. Meetings have varying presentations and discussions of new technology, special training and many subjects relevant to B/VI persons.

The next Palo Alto VIST group meeting will be held on Thursday July 19th from 11 am to 12 pm at the address below:
VAPAHCS Palo Alto Hospital
Building 100, 3rd Floor, Room B3-136
3801 Miranda Ave
Palo Alto, CA 93401

The next Stockton VIST group meeting will be held on Thursday July 26th from 10:30 am to 11:30 am at the address below:
Stockton Community Center for the Blind
Conference Room
130 W Flora St
Stockton, CA 95202
(209) 466-3836