VA NY Harbor Health Care System
Healthier & Happier
Whole Health for Life is now in place at VA NY Harbor with Internist Rita Sinha, MD at the helm. Appointed as POC by Executive Chief of Staff Patrick Malloy, MD, Dr. Sinha is an ex-Major in the Indian Army where she served five years. Dr. Sinha moved to the United States and has been practicing for over 20 years. Most recently she worked at VA Clarksburg, WV, and then transferred to VA Brooklyn.
What is Whole Health? Overall, the concept places an emphasis on the way people think about their health. A Veteran is in the process of being recruited to serve as a Whole Health Coach to use a patient-centered approach to help identify goals and provide guidance. The approach encourages identification of health goals and making decisions with the provider about how to achieve objectives. Potentially, Whole Health for Life touches everyone at the hospital. It applies to Veterans, providers who treat them and others who may interact with them at VA clinics as well as in elevators and other public spaces.
Everyone in the VA community is being charged with understanding that Whole Health for Life applies to all goals related to becoming healthier and happier. For example, a Veteran may want to feel strong enough to take a grandchild to a ball game or another Veteran may be intent on losing weight.
Whole Health for Life means the Veteran identifies the parts of his/her health they are satisfied with, acknowledges those that need changing, and takes ownership of their Whole Health for Life plan made with their provider to help them achieve their goals. A plan might combine, for example, prescription medicine, meditation, massage, acupuncture, Reiki, physical therapy, yoga, mindfulness and many other options.
As an important part of the commitment to Whole Health for Life, VA NY Harbor is hiring a Peer Health Coach. Possibly there will be more in the future. Advocates of Whole Health for Life say coaches will be available to Veterans as they progress in meeting their goals.
Peter Cole, who coordinates the patient Education Resource Center says the Peer Health Coach will operate out of this Center and be an integral part of the Whole Health Team at VA NY Harbor. The position is for a Veteran, who will work one-on-one with other Veterans. Peer activities will be peer-led, sometimes bringing in the expertise of other clinicians. Whole Health for life Complementary Integrative classes for Veterans are already in place at VA Brooklyn and VA Manhattan.