Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System
New Women Veterans Clinic Opens in Tulsa
To meet the growing needs of Women Veterans in Eastern Oklahoma, the Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center (JCMVAMC) opened a new Women Veterans Clinic at the Ernest Childers VA Outpatient Clinic in Tulsa in June.
Women Veterans represent the largest growing subpopulation of the U.S. military and are enrolling for VA health care at record levels. During Fiscal Year (FY) 2011, JCMVAMC and its outpatient clinics in Hartshorne, Tulsa and Vinita provided services for 1,770 Women Veterans, almost a 30 percent increase over the last four years when 1,246 Women Veterans were treated.
The new clinic offers primary care needs for eligible Women Veterans including gender specific care by a provider trained and proficient in women's health.
Along with the clinic in Tulsa, JCMVAMC also has a Women Veterans Clinic at the hospital in Muskogee. Both clinics are optional for Women Veterans and they can still join a regular primary care team at either facility.
But Sharalee Savage, the Nurse Practitioner for the Tulsa Women Veterans Clinic, said the clinic benefits women because it is a one-stop shop where they can get both their primary care and women’s health needs met in one location.
“Before this opened, what they would have to do is see their primary care provider and then come and see me for their women’s health needs,” said Savage. “This will allow them to have everything done at one time.”
The clinic staff consists of a nurse practitioner, registered nurse, licensed practical nurse and patient services assistant (PSA).
“I think one benefit is the stability of the clinic,” said Savage. “When they come in, they’re not going to see a different provider or nurse. They’re not seeing a different PSA. It’s like coming home to a soft place to land.”
The clinic also gives women an additional level of privacy and security by having a waiting room with a locked door. Savage said the locked waiting room is an important feature, especially for women who have been victims of military sexual trauma.
“They will come into a locked waiting room and no one can come in,” said Savage. “It’s a very secure environment for them.”
Another feature that makes the clinic unique is the waiting room and decorations throughout the clinic, which is intended to create a calm and relaxed environment. Savage said every decoration has a special meaning, such as the butterflies which hang from the ceiling in one of the patient exam rooms.
“A butterfly signifies a new beginning,” she said. “Every day is a new beginning. You may have had all sorts of problems in the past, but this is your new beginning. You have the choice.”
For Marine Corps Veteran Kathleen Serrano, choice is key especially when it comes to where she gets her health care needs met.
“From a women’s point of view, it’s nice to have an area just designated for women and have your own place to go,” she said.
To view more photos of the Women Veterans Clinic, visit our Facebook page. For more information about services for Women Veterans, contact Susan Hartsell, Women Veterans Program Manager, at 1-888-397-8387, ext 4277 or visit our Women Veterans page.