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VA Western New York Healthcare System

'Virtual Listening Session' tomorrow for input on how best to design a healthcare system of the future for vets

By Press Release

From the VA WNY Healthcare System:

Join us for a public "Virtual Listening Session for Veterans" on Friday, April 2, at 11 a.m. Provide your feedback to deliver better VA health care! 

VA Western New York Healthcare System, along with several other local VA medical centers in the region, is hosting a public virtual listening session to hear Veterans on how to design a health care system of the future and grow services for veterans in a way that reinforces VA’s role as a leader in the U.S. health care system.

This listening session represents an exciting opportunity for veterans to help VA reimagine how VA delivers care in an equitable, high quality, veteran-centered manner and develop a plan for investing in VA’s infrastructure. We are looking forward to robust engagement and to hearing the voices and insights of Veterans on the following topics:

  • How Veterans want care to be delivered in the future;
  • Perception of the quality of health care at VA and VA’s community network;
  • Experience with the ability to get care at VA and within VA’s community network;
  • Satisfaction with the condition and location of VA’s facilities;
  • VA’s role in research, education, and emergency preparedness.

You will be able to participate via phone or computer. 

Please visit VA WebEx Enterprise Site or dial the 1-404-397-1596 USA Toll Number CONFERENCE LINE to join.

Link to the listening session is VA WebEx Enterprise Site.

Session opens at 10:45 a.m.

If you are not able to attend the meeting but would still like to provide feedback, please submit your feedback to:  [email protected].

Your feedback will be used to develop the recommendations VA submits to the Asset and Infrastructure Review (AIR) Commission in January.

The AIR Commission will also conduct public hearings as part of their review of VA’s recommendations before submitting its recommendations to the President and Congress for review and approval in 2023.

Veterans' telehealth appointments soar using VA Video Connect during COVID-19 pandemic

By Press Release

Press release:

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently announced that video telehealth appointments to veterans’ homes increased over 1,000 percent, as veterans increasingly chose virtual care through VA Video Connect during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Western New York, VA Western New York Healthcare System (VAWNYHS) has conducted over 9,000 telehealth appointments between Oct. 1 and Aug. 17.

VA Video Connect allows veterans and their caregivers to meet virtually with their VA care teams on any computer, tablet, or mobile device with an internet connection. As in-person interactions decreased in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, VA Video Connect supported veterans’ abilities to continue care and remain safely at home.

Usage of video to home services has been increasing since mid-March with peak usage reaching more than 29,000 appointments per day. 

The increase at VAWNYHS represents a 1,400-percent increase from the same time period in 2019. Other telehealth milestones from VAWNYHS include:

  • All primary care providers can complete Video to Home visits;
  • All mental health providers can complete Video to Home visits;
  • VAWNYHS offers Video to Home in 21 different specialty care clinics.

VA is also taking strides to bridge the digital divide for veterans who lack the technology or broadband internet connectivity required to participate in VA telehealth services.

At the national level, VA is working with strategic partners, through the VA Secretary’s Center of Strategic Partnerships, to increase access to the technology that veterans need to connect with their VA health care team virtually.

“As we near the three-year anniversary of the launch of VA Video Connect, even during these challenging times, VA has and continues to maintain access to high-quality health care for veterans,” said Executive Director Michael Swartz.

“As the service becomes more popular, VA remains committed to providing a seamless user experience to ensure veterans have access to care, where and when they need it.”

Read more about VA Video Connect. For information about VA’s telehealth services visit

ZAP!: 'Pulsed xenon disinfection robot' to be deployed at Batavia VA Medical Center to kill SARS-CoV-2 virus

By Billie Owens

Press release:

VA Western New York Healthcare System is the first health care system in Western New York to use the pulsed xenon disinfection robot, the first and reportedly only ultraviolet (UV) disinfection technology proven to deactivate the actual SARS-CoV-2 (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2).

The disinfection robot destroys SARS-CoV-2, which is the virus that causes COVID-19, in two minutes on surfaces and is a critical and necessary step to protect health care workers and patients in a quick and effective manner. 

Xenex Germ-Zapping Robots™ use a xenon lamp to generate bursts of high intensity, full germicidal spectrum UVC light that’s more intense than sunlight. This process used by the robots, quickly deactivate viruses, bacteria and spores where they are most vulnerable without damaging hospital materials or equipment.

The robots work quickly, allowing dozens of rooms to be disinfected per day per robot, supplementing other hospital disinfection methods. Published peer-reviewed studies also show a significant reduction in other infections such as Clostridium difficile (C. diff), MRSA, VRE and/or Surgical Site Infection (SSI) rates after integrating the robots along with other disinfection efforts.

Each robot costs approximately $100,000 made possible by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act or CARES Act, signed into law March 27, to protect America’s veterans.

VA Western New York Healthcare System currently has two robots with two additional robots on order.

A VA spokesman in Buffalo told The Batavian today that one of the robots will soon be deployed at the Batavia VA.

“Using the latest technology to combat the virus allows us to improve staff efficiency and disinfection effectiveness,” said Danielle Bergman, acting associate director. “Protecting patients and employees is paramount, especially during this challenging time.”

To protect against COVID-19, access veterans' healthcare from home

By Billie Owens

Press release:

VA Western New York Healthcare System is committed to providing high-quality care while keeping veterans safe from the coronavirus (COVID-19).

“Due to COVID-19 precautionary measures and out of concern for our veterans, we are honoring current social isolation and distancing guidelines,” said Michael J. Swartz, executive director, VA Western New York Healthcare System.

“Through VA’s virtual care tools, we are able to leverage available technology to make sure that our patients and staff are as safe as possible during this time.”

To help us address our Veterans’ most-urgent needs first, VA Western New York Healthcare System asks that Veterans use our online tools for routine or non-urgent questions.

Here are some examples:

Telephone or Video Appointments – Veterans can receive care at home — either over the phone or via video using VA Video Connect on their computers, smartphones, or tablets.

To set up telephone or video appointments, Veterans can send their provider a secure message on My HealtheVet by visiting Veterans may also call, but VA is requesting that veterans only call with urgent needs at this time.

To learn more about VA Video Connect, click here.

Prescription Refills – Veterans can request prescription refills and order and ship medications to their homes using My HealtheVet or the Rx Refill mobile app. Download the app at

Text Message Reminders – Veterans can use Annie’s Coronavirus Precautions protocol to send automated text messages with information about COVID-19.

This application helps Veterans monitor for symptoms and can assist if they need to contact their VA facility for care. Enroll at

Secure Messaging – With My HealtheVet, VA’s online patient portal, Veterans can send online secure messages to your VA health care team to ask them nonurgent health questions. Register at

For more information about VA’s Connected Care technologies, visit or

Disabled vets enrolled in VA healthcare invited to recreation therapy skiing at Ellicottville lodge

By Billie Owens

Press release:

On Friday, Feb. 7, at 10 a.m., veterans with disabilities will be treated to a fun day of skiing as part of VA Western New York Healthcare System’s Recreation Therapy activities.

Hosted by the Lounsbury Adaptive Ski Program at Holiday Valley Ski Resort, the ski program will kick off from the Tannenbaum Lodge at 6787 Holiday Valley Road, Ellicottville, which is in Western New York.

Disabled veterans enrolled in VA healthcare are welcome to participate and can register by calling 716-862-6814. 

Ski passes and equipment have been generously donated by the Lounsbury Adaptive Ski Program at Holiday Valley. Though VA transportation to the resort will not be provided, disabled veterans can participate in stand-up or adaptive sit-down skiing at no cost.

“This is a great partnership and winter activity for our veterans,” said Pamela Kaznowski, VA Western New York Healthcare System’s Recreation Therapy supervisor. “Recreation therapy activity like this improves the quality of life of our veterans.

"This could be a veteran’s first skiing experience and a day of camaraderie with fellow veterans, giving them the inspiration to take their rehabilitation to a higher level."

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