Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital
Veteran Care at Home
Michelle Eichholz Bernard, DNP, Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) for the Home Based Primary Care (HBPC) - South team of Truman VA, received a doctorate of nursing practice from the University of Tennessee-Memphis last May.
VA home care, now known as HBPC, began in 1970. The program provides long-term primary medical care to chronically ill Veterans in their own homes under the coordinated care of an interdisciplinary treatment team. HBPC targets patients with complex, chronic, progressive disabling diseases. The goal of HBPC is to promote a Veteran's maximum level of health and independence by maintaining optimal physical, cognitive and psychosocial functioning. This reduces the need for, and provides an acceptable alternative to, hospitalization, nursing home care, emergency room and outpatient clinic visits. Through close monitoring and creation of a therapeutic and safe environment in the home, quality of life is enhanced through symptom management and other palliative care measures. Truman VA has operated HBPC for the Columbia area for many years.
Bernard has been instrumental in the growth of the VA HBPC program based in Waynesville, Mo. She has marketed the HBPC South program to private practice primary care providers in the Waynesville area who serve Veterans as well as the VA providers at the Fort Leonard Wood and St. James community based clinics. The HBPC South census has nearly tripled in the year since Michelle began practicing in the program. Recently, the HBPC South program team members (Lisa Wieberg, RN; Carrie Koons, LCSW and Bernard) received the ultimate compliment. One of their patients, a Veteran who was reluctant to accept HBPC services, actually made a referral.
While helping to grow the program and providing comprehensive primary care to Veterans in their homes, Michelle has managed to successfully test for her gerontology certification as well as the American Board of Comprehensive Care Certification (ABCC). That certification validates the advanced clinical competency of graduates of doctorate of nursing practice programs. Veterans receiving care from Bernard receive “world-class benefits and services they have earned at the highest standards of compassion, commitment, excellence, professionalism, integrity, accountability and stewardship.”