Austin gets 'first V.A. hospital' as part of Dell Medical School/Veterans Affairs partnership

"[I] truly believe it was an honor  to serve in the service for my country and I would do it over again in a heartbeat," said Carl Williams, an Air Force Veteran who calls Austin home.   

"My wife and I have been married for 44 years.  I lost her 8 years ago.  And so I'm a bachelor now.  I live alone with my dog.  I live out on the farm," Williams said.

Williams says his farm is close to Austin's V.A. Outpatient Clinic which will play an integral role in a new collaboration between the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System, Dell Medical School at the University of Texas and Seton Healthcare.  

The union was announced at a press conference Wednesday morning. "We really collaborate so that we do a residency-training program and patients can be seen in the outpatient setting and training residents in that setting and then handing them off if they need inpatient care at Dell Seton Medical Center at the University of Texas," said Christann Vasquez, President of Dell Seton.

Christopher Sandles, with Central Texas Veterans Health Care says this is one of several partnerships they've entered into over the past year, bringing care closer to communities.

"Really positions us to have what will really be our first V.A. hospital in the Austin market.  For years with the distance that we've had between our Austin outpatient clinic and our Temple campus, many cases if a veteran requires hospitalization, we've in some cases, transported veterans all the way from Austin to Temple," Sandles said.

Williams says before the outpatient clinic opened, he had to drive to Temple a lot. "I used to do it on a regular basis and we'd take a whole day to go down there to get the care that you needed and now you can receive it right here in the Austin area," Williams said.

Seton says now providers at the outpatient clinic can admit veterans directly to Dell Seton -- and they'll get care from a shared clinical team. "It helps me tremendously, it gives me another outlet as far as where they can send me coming to the Dell Seton Medical Center here.  For the other veterans it also provides more hospital bed space for them," Williams said. 

Williams says he can't express how deeply he feels about the level of care he can get so close to home now. "Until you've been in a situation where you don't know where you're going to get your medications, where you're going to get your care from or if you're going to be able to get the care, or if you are going to be able to afford that care.  The V.A. has filled that role and the Dell Medical Center will also fall in that same category with us," Williams said.

Dell Seton says in addition to what they announced today, they're also planning future research opportunities with the V.A. to create new therapies and care for veterans.