Virtua launches ‘Here to Serve’ program for military members

Driving factor in initiative is to increase health access for personnel

Special to The Sun: Staff Members from Virtua Health’s new ‘Here to Serve’ initiative stand outside a program site near Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst. From left, Stephanie Paluchowski, physical therapist; Dawn Gray, Here to Serve navigator; Aqssa Rehman, CT/X-ray technologist; Dr. Eugene Klifto, radiologist; Michelle Smith, physical therapist team lead; Katie Lepore, MRI technologist.

In an effort to better help and address medical needs and services for active-duty personnel at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in Burlington County, Virtua Health has launched its Here to Serve program for military members and their families. 

The initiative, launched by the Marlton based health system, dedicates specific lines of communication, including email, for active military members to address a variety of health-related issues. Dedicated personal health navigators will help speed the process, according to Senior Vice President of Virtua Health John Kirby. 

“The navigator is there to take these calls and help [military members] get scheduled for whatever they might need,” explained Kirby. “They can help those that need it find the closest appropriate location for the care they need, whether it be an MRI, an appointment with a primary-care physician, securing prescriptions, transportation … anything they might need.” 

Kirby said Virtua Health’s long-standing relationship with Burlington County and the Joint Base was a driving factor in creating a more streamlined process for military care. 

“We started to meet internally at the tail end of last year to discuss ways that we can better serve the military community, and that was how we came up with the idea to move forward with this program,” Kirby said. 

“Virtua Health has had a long-standing relationship with that base that goes back decades … Through conversations with leaders at the base,” he added, “we kind of came up with this process as a way to make it expedited for active staff, as well as their families, to make it quicker for them to be able to deploy after showing the current status of their physical health.” 

Since medical testing and approvals can affect deployment scheduling and status, the Virtua program wants to provide “expedited access to specialty care, supplementing the services already available on base,” according to a release from Virtua. 

The Here to Serve program initially began in summer and has to date navigated more than 450 patients through specific lines of communication that Virtua intends to grow as time goes on. 

“It really streamlines the process,” Kirby noted. “Preventative care is very important for all of us … and as you can imagine, somebody that is active military, it’s very important that they get all of their appropriate screenings and care in a timely fashion.

“Our Here to Serve program is here to better serve the health-care needs of the local military community, and we’re happy to provide that support,” he added. “We’re more than thankful for their service. ”To access Here to Serve, active military members and their families can call (833) 676-7677 or email heretoserve@virtua.org.

Visit virtua.org/Heretoserve for more information.