PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — A new program is launching at the Bay Pines VA Hospital that will connect doctors to veterans in less than five minutes. The program, Video On Demand VA Connect, is already having a big impact on our nation's heroes.
Serena Tita considers herself pretty tough. "I'm a marine. I don't let a lot of things stop me," she explained.
Even after several surgeries and excruciating pain, she's strong.
“It’s hard to stay positive when you’re in pain, but you have to keep going,” she said.
Yet, getting to the Bay Pines VA for treatment tests her strength and her mobility after several knee replacement surgeries.
Now, in two clicks and less than 5 minutes, she can be face to face with her doctor.
The VA recently rolled out the Video on Demand program connecting pharmacists, psychiatrists, and doctors to patients via video chat.
“It has kept me above water,” Tita said fighting back emotions.
The program helps to alleviate long wait times at the VA as well. The issue made national headlines a few years ago. Now, these video chats can be scheduled with just a few hour's notice.
“I can actually take the camera and bring it down to my knee and show my doctor 'look how swollen it is or look how red it is,'” Tita explained.
Doctors at the VA tell ABC Action News the program is already saving lives especially when it comes to mental health.
“It’s absolutely rewarding. The veterans have given so much to this country so it’s a pleasure to give something back to them,” explained Bernard Khaw in the Bay Pines VA's Primary Care Unit.
Doctors can even prescribe medicine moments after the VA Connects chat.
For Tita, knowing someone is there to listen, is making all the difference.
“So I don’t want to cry but yes, they have been amazing,” Tita said fighting back emotions.
The VA is working with veterans to teach them how to use the Video on Demand technology, which is free to any veterans that use the VA center.