Bay Pines VA Healthcare System

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VA Hires Mental Health Professionals to Meet Goal, Expands Access to Care and Outreach Efforts

June 11, 2013

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Bay Pines VA 46 New Mental Health Professionals

BAY PINES, FL – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced that it has met the goal to hire 1,600 new mental health professionals outlined in President Obama's August 31, 2012, Executive Order to Improve Access to Mental Health Services for Veterans, Service Members, and Military Families. The Bay Pines VA Healthcare System (VAHCS) has hired 46 new mental health professionals toward this goal.

"I am proud of the hard work our staff has completed to bring these new staff members on board," said Suzanne M. Klinker, Director, Bay Pines VAHCS. "We are not slowing our efforts however, and will continue to actively recruit for any vacant mental health positions for the future so Veterans will get the care they need.

The Bay Pines VAHCS currently employs more than 250 mental health professionals. These employees provide mental health services and support at several locations throughout southwest Fla. to include the primary medical center located in Bay Pines and outpatient clinics located in Palm Harbor, Saint Petersburg, Sarasota, Bradenton, Sebring, Port Charlotte, Cape Coral and Naples.

Additionally, the healthcare system is constructing a new 156,000 square foot mental health addition next to the primary medical center. The new addition will provide a full line of inpatient and outpatient mental health services for Veterans. The center is expected to open in 2015.

As of May 31, 2013, VA has hired a total of 1,607 mental health clinical providers to meet the goal of 1,600 new mental health professionals outlined in the Executive Order. Additionally, VA has hired 2,005 mental health clinical providers to fill existing vacancies.

"Meeting this hiring milestone significantly enhances our ability to improve access to care for those Veterans seeking mental health services and demonstrates our continued commitment to the health and well-being of the men and women who have served the Nation," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. "Meeting this goal is an important achievement, but we recognize that we must continue to increase access to the quality mental health care Veterans have earned and deserve."

VA provides a full range of comprehensive mental health services across the country. In Fiscal Year 2012, more than 1.3 million Veterans received specialized mental health care from VA. This number has risen each year from 927,052 in Fiscal Year 2006. In addition to hiring more mental health professionals, VA is expanding the use of innovative technology to serve Veterans in rural or underserved areas. VA expects to increase the number of Veterans receiving care from tele-mental health services in fiscal year 2013, and has increased the number of Vet Centers, which provide readjustment counseling and referral services from 233 in 2008 to 300 in 2012.

In November 2011, VA launched an award-winning, national public awareness campaign called Make the Connection, which is aimed at reducing the stigma associated with seeking mental health care and informing Veterans, their families, friends, and members of their communities about VA resources. More information on Make the Connection can be found at www.maketheconnection.net *.

Mental health professionals interested in seeking employment with the Department of Veterans Affairs can obtain information at www.vacareers.va.gov. Veterans and their families interested in learning more about the mental health services provided by VA can go to www.mentalhealth.va.gov.

About the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System 

The Bay Pines VAHCS is one of the nation's leading VA healthcare systems, employing more than 3,500 medical professionals and support staff dedicated to providing the very best care to Veterans residing in southwest Florida. The Bay Pines VAHCS is accredited by The Joint Commission and the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities. The healthcare system is also a three-time winner of the Robert W. Carey Circle of Excellence Award, the VA's top honor for quality achievement.

The healthcare system operates nine facilities to include the main medical center located in Bay Pines and outpatient clinics located in Bradenton, Cape Coral, Naples, Palm Harbor, Port Charlotte, Sarasota, St. Petersburg, and Sebring.

Every year Bay Pines VAHCS treats approximately 100,000 Veterans while providing a full range of high quality medical, psychiatric, and extended care services in outpatient, inpatient, nursing home, and home care settings. For more information about the Bay Pines VAHCS, please visit www.baypines.va.gov or "like" us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/vabaypines.

* Links will take you outside of the Department of Veterans Affairs Website. VA does not endorse and is not responsible for the content of the linked websites. The link will open in a new window.