UNITED STATES: Women Vets Get a Place of their Own

Sunday, September 19, 2010
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Women now have their own “pink team” at the Veterans Affairs Illiana Health Care System.

A clinic to meet the specific health-care needs of women opened in March on the second floor of Building 98. The various departments at the VA have patient-friendly color codes; the new Women Veterans Health Care is the pink team.

Vanessa J. Rainey, the program manager, described it as “one-stop shopping,” a place where women vets can get annual exams and gender-specific tests.

“It's an out-of-the-way, private, beautiful clinic,” she said. “We want the community to see it's available to them.”

Dr. Uma Sekar, associate chief of staff for ambulatory care at the VA, said there are 1,400 women who use one or more services at the Danville site. About 500 veterans have signed up at the women's center since it opened.

“We're encouraging all the (women) veterans in the area to enroll,” Sekar said, adding the clinic could expand to handle 750-800 clients.

The outpatient clinic is open three days a week, and is staffed by one registered nurse, two receptionists, a medical assistant, nurse practitioner and physician, Dr. Nandini Gowda.

One veteran who's pleased with the new clinic is Daylon Enderson of Catlin, who has been coming to the VA since 2005. She served as an aviation electrician in the Navy.

“I'm extremely pleased,” Enderson said. “It's comforting. Whenever I call, they know who I am. It's very personable.”

It's nice that her primary-care provider also is a gynecologist, she said, and it's convenient to get all her tests in one place.

Sekar said the clinic has been getting positive feedback from clients.

She also noted that such a service is needed because the younger female population in the VA is growing as a result of the Gulf War and the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The women's clinic works closely with the Illiana System's Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom office.

“It's better for them to have a separate room,” Sekar said. “It's more women-friendly and provides the care they need.”

Misty Hillard, registered nurse, said the women appreciate the efficiency, that they can get all their tests done at once. Mammograms are done off-site, but the results are sent to the clinic.

The women are sent letters to remind them when they are due for an exam, she said.

Patients from the Illiana System's outpatient clinics in other cities also may use the clinic, Hillard said.

Rainey said of the women's clinic staff, “They make every patient feel they want them here, and take care of their needs.”

The clinic's goal is to expand so that services are offered more than three days a week.


To make an appointment at the new Women Veterans Health Care, call 554-3664. Toll-free number is (800) 320-8387.