Emergency care in non-VA facilities

SUN Columnist

VA guidelines and recommendations for emergency care in non-VA facilities can be summarized as follows:

A medical emergency is when you have an injury or illness that is so severe that without immediate treatment, the injury or illness threatens your health or life.

In your best judgment, if you believe your health or life is in danger, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.

The nearest VA Medical Center must be notified as soon as possible, within 72 hours, so you as the veteran are better aware of services the VA may limit payment for.

You, your family, friends or hospital staff can make this notification. Provide the VA with information about your emergency event and services being provided to you. Ask the VA for guidance on how they will consider reimbursing these emergency charges on your behalf, so you can plan accordingly.

The veteran bears the ultimate responsibility of VA notification.

If the doctor wants to admit you into the hospital because the admission is an emergency, the veteran is still required to notify the VA. If a VA bed is available, and veteran can be safely transferred, the veteran must move to the VA hospital. Refusal will result in VA not paying for any further care.

Note: If the veteran leaves the emergency room prior to being treated by a physician, the VA might not consider claims for that emergency event, and the veteran might be liable for some or all resulting ambulance and emergency room charges, regardless of veteran eligibility.

Payment by the VA depends on VA eligibility. The VA may pay all, some or none of the charges, based on the veteran’s service-connected conditions, or non service-connected conditions. The veteran may also have co-pays based on VA enrollment. Sometimes the extent of healthcare services reimbursable by the VA is limited by federal law.

A veteran’s enrollment in the VA HealthCare System may affect eligibility for emergency care at VA’s expense.

VAMC Albuquerque N.M. emergency notification: (800) 465-8262, Ext. 5739.

Your Veterans Service Officer

The Veterans Service Officer acts on behalf of veterans, families of veterans, or other designated persons for a veteran’s interests, to assist with information and applications for the Department of Veteran Affairs benefits and services, in which may include the Department of Defense.

This office assists with all veteran-related matters in the community, including citizens interested in veterans information and assistance ensuring privacy of personal information.

This includes assisting in determining the best course of action to maximize any and all VA benefits a veteran, or veteran-related person, may be entitled to; determine appropriate application processes for VA benefits and claims; assist in the completion of applications and forms to apply for benefits, including medical, military service and all other information required.

This office further assists veterans with VA Health Care questions or claims, and general information which affects the local veteran population.


For further information on any VA benefits, please call or stop by the Archuleta County Veterans Service Office, located at the Senior Center in the Pagosa Springs Community Center, 451 Hot Springs Blvd.

The office number is 264-4013, fax number is 264-4014, cell number is 946-3590, and e-mail is raytaylor@archuletacounty.org. The office is open from 8 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Monday through Friday. Bring your DD Form 214 (Discharge) for completing applications to VA programs or benefits for which the veteran may be entitled to, and a copy for filing in the Archuleta County VSO office.


The following veterans groups meet in Pagosa Springs:

American Legion Post 108: Second Wednesday of the month at 7 p.m., 287 Hermosa Street.

American Legion Post 108 Ladies Aux.: Second Tuesday of the month at 4 p.m., 287 Hermosa St.

Veterans for Veterans: Every Tuesday at 10 a.m., Quality Resort.

Women’s Group of Spouses of Veterans: Every other Monday at 6 p.m., St. Patrick Episcopal Parish Hall, 225 S. Pagosa Blvd. Contact Charlotte: 731-1025.

Point Man Ministries Breakfast for Veterans: Every Tuesday at 8:30 a.m. at Buffalo Inn, 164 N. Pagosa Blvd., Contact Vincent: (435) 618-0049 or Vfortunato777@gmail.com.


Veterans for Veterans: 799-VETS, www.Vets4VetsPSCO.org.

Durango VA Outpatient Clinic: 247-2214.

Farmington VA Center: (505) 327-9684.

The Veterans Crisis Line offers free, confidential support to veterans in crisis, as well as their family and friends 24/7/365. Call (800) 273-8255, chat online or text 838255.

This story was posted on August 8, 2013.