Unsung Heroes Of CVHCS Health Care
by T. T. Parish, Central Virginia VA Health Care System
March 10, 2021
A year into the pandemic, much has been said about the heroes of health care. The front-line nurses, doctors, first responders, ICU staff who have saved countless lives and are now helping steer the largest vaccination initiative in world history. Their efforts have been universally lauded, and rightly so. They are not alone. Behind the scenes, perhaps a few steps back from the “front line,” are the support staff who enable care delivery for Veterans enrolled with the 4,000-employee strong Central Virginia VA Health Care System.
Medical Support Assistants, the army of facilitators who work to connect Veterans with providers, serve many roles: customer service; appointment scheduling; records management; and, jack-of-all-trades. If it involves customer relations and connecting Veterans with care, MSAs can do it.
February 23, 2021 - Tiffany Felder, left, and Daryl Warren, are critical to successful operations of the COVID-19 Vaccine clinic at the Central Virginia VA Health Care System’s (CVHCS) Richmond campus. Felder is an advanced Medical Support Assistant in the CVHCS Health Benefits Department’s Centralized Registration section and Warren is an MSA and current acting secretary for the chief of Health Administration Services. (Photo by T. T. Parish, Central Virginia VA Health Care System)
CVHCS’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout is exhaustive, and much of the workload falls on MSAs, according to Daryl D. Warren, an MSA and current acting secretary for the chief of Health Administration Services.
“Being able to work alongside the nursing staff allows both the MSAs and nursing staff to provide world-class service to the Veterans,” said Warren, who has been with CVHCS since August 2019, the summer before the pandemic began. “MSA’s are the backbone to the facility and their roles are forever important to CVHCS.”
Everything – literally everything – has changed since the SARS-CoV-2 virus began to sweep across the globe. Who would have known what social distancing was before December 2019? Who would have thought masks might one day be a fashion statement? Who would have seen the need for a worldwide vaccination effort, unparalleled in global history? Yes, many things have changed, including perspectives. What hasn’t changed is the Central Virginia Health Care System team’s commitment to the roughly 68,000 Veterans who receive care at one of CVHCS’s six sites of care across Central Virginia.
“Every day I wake up knowing that I am going to make a change in someone’s life as an MSA,” said Warren, who grew up as a military child but calls Chesapeake, Virginia his hometown. “I may look at some days as a ‘rough day,’ but serving Veterans has allowed me to understand that I am providing service to those who provided service for me. Working endless hours during the current pandemic has allowed me to have a gratifying feeling at the end of the day knowing that I worked to my best capabilities. This experience has truly enhanced my compassion for the field, as well as my work ethic.”
MSAs tie the Veterans’ experience with CVHCS to the physical – or virtual – encounter the Veteran has with a provider. They act as a critical link, and as ambassadors, for each Veteran who seeks care at CVHCS. Though their duties and responsibilities are myriad, their primary role is to ensure each Veteran receives the world-class care they earned while in uniform, according to Tiffany Felder, an advanced MSA in the CVHCS Health Benefits Department’s Centralized Registration section. Ensuring eligible Veterans are enrolled is especially important today as only Veterans currently enrolled with the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) will be scheduled for the COVID-19 vaccine.
“I provide primary clerical and administrative support for the Health Benefits Department and Health Administrative Service Office,” said Felder, originally from Colorado Springs, Colorado who moved to Richmond at age 15. “My day to day duties include checking eligibility and registering Veterans. I am responsible for accurate appointment management and the coordination of all administrative information. Teamwork is one of my best assets.”
Felder, who has been with CVHCS for nearly three years, was working at a local private health care facility when she began looking for other job opportunities. With a proud family history of military service, serving Veterans seemed like a natural opportunity.
“I understand that during these times it can be very stressful for some of them,” said Felder. “I am honored to work with the Veterans during this time to provide world-class service. I look at all my Veterans as family. I go above and beyond to make sure they receive the care and information they deserve.”
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs