The Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System's is arguably one of the neighborhood's more well-known spots, having opened in 1953 to work with veterans in and around the city. The V.A.'s mission is multi-faceted, but few would argue its importance. We caught up with Diane Keefe, the Boston V.A.'s Public Relations Manager, to talk about the hospital's place in the neighborhood as well as its mission at large.
The VA's goal is, of course, quite broad and is definitely important. Explain briefly some of the day-to-day functions of the V.A.?
Diane Keefe: VA Boston Healthcare System is a large healthcare system that cares for veterans of all eras, in fact we care for about 65,000 veterans a year throughout our 9 locations. The Jamaica Plain Campus is our premier outpatient facility and offers the full range of ambulatory care and primary care services. The state-of-the-art Ambulatory Care Center serves as a hub for outpatient care for all of our locations. This campus also offers specialized services including Audiology services, Ambulatory Day Surgery, CAT scanning, MRI and PET scanning, specialized aphasia treatment, and a state-of-the-art eye center. There are many other services located here as well, dialysis, chemotherapy, radiology, to name a few. In addition Medical and Mental Health services located at this campus also include substance abuse treatment, neuropsychology, and nuclear medicine. This campus is home to The National Center for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Neurosciences Division, and the Women’s Health Sciences Division. Many administrative offices are also located here as well.
What is the history of the organization's location in JP?
DK: The Jamaica Plain campus opened in 1953 as a full service inpatient hospital; at that time this campus was a 1,000 bed hospital. In the early 2000s, when this campus integrated with the Brockton/West Roxbury VA hospital, all remaining inpatient care was transferred to the West Roxbury or Brockton campuses and the Jamaica Plain campus’s mission became outpatient care.
What makes JP a good location for a hospital?
DK: Its location on the Green Line makes this an ideal location for veterans to reach; no car is needed.
What are some of the ways the hospital and the community interact?
DK: In addition to caring for veterans, many of whom reside within the city, the VA hospital employs over 1,000 staff, many live within the neighborhoods of the City of Boston. Many area school and college students come to us to volunteer, and we partner with the City of Boston’s Senior Program RSVP to offer volunteer opportunities to that organization.
Employees and volunteers at the VA must feel great about their vocations. Talk to us about what that must be like for yourself and for those you work with.
DK: All of our staff are proud to be caring for America’s heroes. Many of our employees are veterans themselves; about one third of our staff are veterans. Many of us who work here are related to veterans and feel a special connection to what we do. It’s really an honor to work here, to serve and care for the men and woman who put their lives on the line for us.