VA seeks local physician volunteers for ambassador program

KINGMAN – The Department of Veterans Affairs is asking the help of local physicians.

It announced June 16 it has launched the Physician Ambassador Program, an effort to recruit volunteer medical providers at more than 1,700 VA health-care facilities across the nation.

The physician and clinician “ambassadors” are qualified, trained and licensed health providers who will meet the same requirements as VA professionals in terms of credentials, supervision and evaluation. 

“Our veterans deserve the highest quality of care – at all times,” said Dr. Poonam L. Alaigh, VA’s Acting Undersecretary for Health. “The Physician Ambassador Program is one of the many ways we are working to keep and honor our promise to care for veterans and their families. Working with the health-care teams and staff in our VA facilities, these incredibly skilled and qualified volunteer physicians and clinicians will improve our ability to deliver great care and service.”

 The Physician Ambassador Program will enhance access to urgent care, rural health care and emergency medicine for veterans. In addition, the program will create stronger collaboration and allow both VA and community health providers to benefit from the sharing of best practices and experiences.

Kingman and Lake Havasu City VA Community Based Outpatient Clinics stand to benefit from this program.

“It is one of the reasons why the program is in place,” said Mary Dillinger, Northern Arizona VA Healthcare System spokeswoman.

Nearly 14,000 patients were seen at the Kingman CBOC in June and almost 10,000 in Lake Havasu City. The Kingman clinic has 33 employees including doctors, physicians, nurses and support staff. The Lake Havasu clinic has 26.

Dillinger said she knows of no volunteers for the local CBOCs yet, but that NAVAHCS is communicating with community hospitals about the program.

It could be a while before Kingman vets get a boost from the program.

“This is the first time we’ve heard about this program,” said Teri Williams, Kingman Regional Medical Center spokeswoman. “We haven’t been contacted by the VA.”

At least one person in Northern Arizona is interested in helping.

“Our first voluntary physician is being processed to work at our Prescott facility, targeted to have the physician ambassador start on August 21,” Dillinger said.

Volunteer civilian physicians and clinicians seeking to volunteer and work without compensation can contact NAVAHCS. Credentialing, privileging and human resource processing will occur should the volunteer fit their needs.

Physicians or health-care providers interested in volunteering as a part of the Physician Ambassador Program should contact their local VA medical centers.   

Miner reporter AARON RICCA contributed to this report