Veterans in Northwestern New Jersey will no longer have to travel to Essex County to receive care.
Rep. Josh Gottheimer announced Oct. 15 that that veterans in Northwestern New Jersey would finally be able to receive referrals for health care services at the Newton ImageCare Center instead of having to drive more than an hour to the East Orange VA Medical Center for services like MRIs, mammograms, ultrasounds, and cancer screenings. The referrals will be used for healthcare services at the medical complex that houses the Sussex VA Community-Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC).
“After visiting this CBOC with the American Legion, and hearing about the maddening fact that many were unable to receive referrals to the ImageCare facility literally next door, it became one of my top priorities in my fight to improve their access to care,” Gottheimer said. “My goal all along has been to provide greater access to care, better care, faster care—the care that they deserve. I’m proud to say, today, we are delivering on those goals.”
Cutting Red Tape
This announcement follows more than a year of work from Gottheimer and veterans groups to cut red tape and bureaucracy between New Jersey VA Health Care Director, the VA Community Care Network, and healthcare delivery provider Optum.
“As many of us have learned, this pandemic has highlighted the vulnerabilities in our nation’s health systems, and we must do everything in our power to make sure that all Americans—especially our Veterans—get the proper care that they deserve,” said the two-term congressman. “As we work through these difficult times together, we must always have the backs of those who have had ours: the brave men and women who have served our nation and defended our freedoms.”
As a result, Veterans throughout New Jersey will be able to receive referrals for healthcare services at any ImageCare Center in their community. In the 5th Congressional District, where 32,000 veterans and their families call home, that includes locations in Newton, Franklin, and Vernon.
Long Travel No More
Gottheimer recalled hearing the stories heard from local veterans service organization members that many sick veterans who require specialized care have difficulty traveling these distances. When they did arrive, oftentimes there were long wait times and in some cases appointments were cancelled.
“That is simply unacceptable,” he stated.
Since ImageCare has been added to the network, 74 veterans throughout the 5th District have been able to book appointments at ImageCare Centers, with new access to services like MRIs for brain and spine scans to address chronic pain, injuries, tumors, and dementia; CT and PET scans; mammograms to check for breast cancer; ultrasounds, bone density scans; calcium scores; and checks for lung cancer.
“After meeting with the Congressman and explaining our situation about the things here in Newton for veterans, he immediately went to work on our behalf, and he kept us in the loop every step of the way,” said Tony Gallopo, past New Jersey American Legion Vice Commander. “Now, our veterans can go a couple of days before their appointment and book an X-ray, get their blood-work done, and, three or four days later, when they have their physical scheduled, they have all the answers the doctor needs, so they can start the physical instead of waiting six weeks.”