UMMS expands partnership with the Veterans Health Administration

By Ellie Castano

UMass Medical School Communications

September 08, 2011

For more than 15 years, UMass Medical School has partnered with the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) to provide health care and training. Initially the school’s VHA affiliation was with the VA Boston Healthcare System, but during the past four years the partnership has expanded to include the VA medical centers in Northampton and Bedford. 

Recently the VHA announced that the Northampton VA Healthcare System, with its medical center in Northampton, will be realigned in October to include the existing outpatient clinics in Central Massachusetts and will be renamed the VA Central Western Massachusetts Healthcare System. The change will further expand the sole academic affiliation of this system with UMass Medical School.

The VHA provides care nationally through 152 regional medical centers, where veterans can receive inpatient care, and hundreds of community-based outpatient clinics, or CBOCs, across the country, of which there are five in the new VA Central Western Massachusetts Healthcare System. While the work with the VA Central Western Massachusetts Healthcare System grows, UMMS will continue to actively participate in the existing partnerships with Boston and Bedford.

“In practical terms, this realignment increases access to care, including specialty care for veterans in their own communities and expands academic and clinical research opportunities through partnerships with UMass Medical School,” said Deborah DeMarco, MD, senior associate dean for clinical affairs, whose role includes serving as the institutional liaison with the VA.

The school’s new academic affiliation with VA Central Western Massachusetts will ensure that UMMS researchers continue to have access to extensive data housed in the VA’s integrated health information technology system, which is the largest in the country. “The expanded partnership could also bring new physicians from UMMS into the VA system and could increase educational opportunities for medical students and residents,” added Dr. DeMarco.

Look for additional news about the VHA/UMMS partnership on UMassMedNow in the fall, when the master affiliation agreement is signed.