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Chiropractic checks into VA hospitals and clinics

The Department of Veterans Affairs Health Care Programs Enhancement Act of 2001 made it possible for veterans to receive chiropractic care from authorized Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals and clinics.

Signed by President George W. Bush on January 23, 2002, the act required chiropractic care be established in at least one facility of each of the department’s 21 service areas. It also stipulated that these facilities provide “a variety of chiropractic care and services for neuromusculoskeletal conditions, including [the] subluxation complex” solely by licensed chiropractors.

Key to the chiropractic profession, the law instructed Veterans Affairs Secretary Anthony Principi to establish a Chiropractic Advisory Committee. On Aug. 12, 2002, he appointed six chiropractors, two medical doctors, an osteopath, a physical therapist and a representative of a veterans service organization to the committee to counsel him.

After convening for just over a year, in November of 2003, the committee presented a list of recommendations to Secretary Principi. After reviewing the recommendations, on March 30, 2004, the secretary announced that he would implement all 30 of the committee’s proposals. And by that summer, Mr. Principi designated the 26 VA hospitals and clinics that would provide chiropractic care in the fall.

Chiropractic care at those authorized VA hospitals is available to patients who have been referred by either a primary care physician or any other provider, such as a neurologist or a rheumatologist. Those veterans not living near these facilities, may, upon provider referral, receive care from independent chiropractors through the VA’s fee-basis program.

Anthony J. Lisi, D.C., West ’96
Director, Veterans Health Administration Chiropractic Service
Dr. Anthony J. Lisi

According to Dr. Anthony Lisi, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA)—a component of the VA—is the largest direct healthcare system in the U.S., with 154 hospitals, 136 nursing homes, 43 residential rehabilitation facilities, 875 outpatient clinics and 206 veterans centers. He should know. He was named the director of the VHA’s Chiropractic Service on September 1, 2007.

As one of the first chiropractors to be appointed to the VHA in 2004, Dr. Lisi developed guidelines and procedures for integrating chiropractic care into a major medical center at the VA Connecticut Healthcare System.

“Palmer’s West Campus has played an integral part in preparing me for this role,” said Dr. Lisi. “I feel my training as a student, my subsequent time as a West Campus faculty member, and my continued collaboration with Palmer colleagues have contributed strongly in the development of my career.”

Dr. Lisi notes that of the nearly eight million veterans enrolled in the VA, about 350,000 have served in Iraq and/or Afghanistan. Personally, he has seen a range of cases, from individuals who incurred serious injuries due to improvised explosive devices to those with less serious conditions.

In addition to his work for the VHA, Dr. Lisi is an associate professor of clinical sciences at the University of Bridgeport College of Chiropractic and an associate faculty member of the Palmer Center for Chiropractic Research.

Kevin Fogard, D.C., West ’86
VA Northern California Health Care System, Mather, Calif.
Dr. Kevin Fogard

Dr. Kevin Fogard provided chiropractic care on a part-time basis at his local VA facility for more than two years before beginning his current fulltime position in May of 2008.

Each year, Dr. Fogard and a group of West Campus alumni who work for either the Department of Defense or the VA, gather at the Association of Chiropractic Colleges Research Agenda Conference.

“Part of our mission is to continue to advance chiropractic in the VA and the Department of Defense (DoD) hospitals and outpatient clinics,” said Dr. Fogard. “We are also currently working to establish academic affiliations between chiropractic colleges and the VA/DoD settings. As we speak, we are working out details with Palmer and the VA Northern California Health Care System.”

David Paris, D.C., West ’01
Staff Chiropractor, Redding Outpatient Clinic, Redding, Calif.
Martinez Outpatient Clinic/Center for Rehabilitation & Extended Care, Martinez, Calif.
Dr. David Paris

While president of the West Campus Student American Chiropractic Association, Dr. David Paris developed an interest in providing chiropractic care to the military. “We had a group of students attend the 2000 National Chiropractic Legislative Conference and it was one of our lobbying points,” said Dr. Paris.

Dr. Paris now devotes most of his time practicing at the VA’s Redding Outpatient Clinic, except for one day a week which he spends at the Martinez Outpatient Clinic/Center for Rehabilitation & Extended Care.

“It’s just an honor to serve veterans and I really enjoy them personally as patients,” said Dr. Paris. “Not having served myself, I’ve always seen it as a small way to give back to those who have given so much.”

Shawn Neff, D.C., Davenport ’03
Staff Chiropractor, Martinsburg VA Medical Center, Martinsburg, W.V.
Dr. Shawn Neff

In addition to enjoying working with veterans and the collegial atmosphere of a large medical center, Dr. Shawn Neff views the work he and other chiropractors are doing as beneficial to his profession.

“A majority of medical providers spend some time during their education in the VA system,” said Dr. Neff. “Think of the possibility of every M.D., D.O., P.T., P.A. and nurse in your community having a positive experience with a D.C. while they were doing their clinical training. Think of the doors that opens.”

“Our biggest obstacle with interprofessional relations today is lack of exposure, not outright animosity as it once was,” added Dr. Neff, who joined the Martinsburg VA Medical Center full-time in 2007, after three years of part-time work there. “The VA gives a great avenue to improve the situation of countless patients through further chiropractic and medical collaboration,” he said.

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