In an effort to modernize the Brooklyn Campus of the VA NY Harbor Healthcare System, its administration is implementing a new domiciliary care program for its veterans which, once in place, would allow patients with a wide array of mental health issues to make use of a brand new residential rehab facility within the hospital.
According to Claudie Benjamin, a spokesperson for the VA NY Harbor Healthcare System, the new service is not a homeless shelter “by any means” – a rumor that had circulated on social media the last week of August – but is rather a “mental health program” that can accommodate up to 40 of the hospital’s patients at any one time.
Though, with the perception that the homeless population in the borough is on the incline and winter on its way, the program will likely see its fair share of homeless vets utilizing the service.
Those who choose to utilize domiciliary care can stay no longer than 120 days on the campus, in a state-of-the art, high-quality residential rehabilitation and treatment service center which, according to Benjamin, will be housed in an already established part of the campus that is currently under renovation to facilitate the program properly.
The program is the VA’s oldest, according to its website, dating back to the late 1860s when domiciliary care meant providing a home for disabled volunteer soldiers of the Civil War.
The program, “initially established to provide services to economically-disadvantaged veterans,” has since shifted from acting simply as a “Soldiers’ Home” to include also clinical rehabilitation and treatment programs – all of which are run in association with the hospital’s Mental Health Residential Rehabilitation and Treatment Programs.
Domiciliary care, Benjamin added, already exists at the VA’s St. Albans Community Living Center in Queens where it’s seen great success since 1989.
“We’re bringing it to Brooklyn as part of modernization,” she said, referencing VA Secretary David Shulkin’s top five priorities – greater choice, efficiency, timeliness of care, suicide prevention and modernization.
“This is an improved, more modern way to accommodate our patients,” said Benjamin, who expects the new services to be up and running by Veterans Day.
The Brooklyn Campus of the VA is located at 800 Poly Place.