Sinema Secures First-Of-Its-Kind Telehealth Care Program for Arizona Veterans

Mar 15, 2021

Sinema worked with key stakeholders including the VA, Philips North America, and the American Legion to secure a Project ATLAS telehealth site in Wickenburg, Arizona

WASHINGTON – Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema announced the opening of a first-of-its-kind Project ATLAS telehealth site in Wickenburg, AZ. Project ATLAS (Accessing Telehealth through Local Area Stations) is a partnership between the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Philips North America, and the American Legion to deploy remote telehealth exam rooms—connecting veterans with the VA—in regions where additional health care access is needed but remote connections are difficult to establish.
Sinema encouraged the VA, Philips North America, and the American Legion to bring Project Atlas to Arizona and worked with them to place a system in Wickenburg. At the Wickenburg Project ATLAS location, veterans will find comfortable, private spaces equipped with internet access and the technology needed to meet with VA providers via a secure video connection – helping ensure all Arizona veterans receive the care and benefits they’ve earned, no matter where they live or their access to connectivity.
“The opening of Project ATLAS in Wickenburg represents a first-of-its-kind opportunity for Arizona veterans to access the care and benefits they’ve earned, no matter where they live. I’m proud of our work with the VA, American Legion, and Philips North America to bring Project Atlas to Arizona and I look forward to continuing our partnership as we serve Arizona veterans across the state,” said Sinema, a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committeee.
“In recognizing there can be barriers for veterans as they seek out the benefits and services they are entitled to, we are so pleased that Senator Sinema has enabled this project by bringing together a team of people who understand the veteran ecosystem.  The ATLAS will provide much needed access to Veteran Affairs in a rural area.  We applaud Senator Sinema and Philips for this gift to veterans,” said Wanda A. Wright, Director, Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services.
“The American Legion Department of Arizona is proud to be a part of the collaborative efforts of the Veterans Administration and Philips to bring the first VA telehealth care system to our Legion Post in Wickenburg AZ.  Veterans in Wickenburg, regardless of whether or not they belong to a Veterans Service Organization, will soon have the option of visiting their VA Health Care provider via the telehealth system in Wickenburg rather than traveling to a VA Medical Care facility in Prescott or even Phoenix. The benefits of using telehealth are considerable; especially in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, “ Said Ken Queen, Commander, Department of Arizona, The American Legion.
“The members and myself are proud to be chosen for this project.  It is a major step forward for our veterans.  Healthcare for veterans should be a top priority for all of us. This program will enable veterans to have timely  appointments, without having to drive great distances. Members are proud that  our post  is going to be leading into the immediate future of tele-health.  They feel this is a great idea, and we all are looking forward to seeing this project come to fruition,” said Denny Towne, Wickenburg American Legion post Commander.
“Under Senator Sinema’s leadership and vision, we have been able to drive an innovative program that will help improve the health of Arizona veterans by bringing care closer to home and allowing them to get the care they need, when then need it, and in a safe, familiar place,” said Vitor Rocha, Chief Market Leader for Philips North America. “Our mission as an organization is to improve the lives of 2.5 billion people a year by 2030 and there is no community more deserving than our nation’s veterans.  We are committed to working with Senator Sinema, the VA, and American Legion to understand how we can work together and further support them.”

In 2019, Sinema worked with the VA and the American Legion advocating for Arizona to be considered as a Project ATLAS pilot site. Sinema noted that many Arizona veterans live in rural parts of the state and lack connectivity to utilize telehealth. A Project ATLAS site would allow Arizona veterans to receive timely care close to home and access telehealth services.  In early 2020, Sinema received word from the VA, Philips North America, and the American Legion that Arizona was selected for a Project Atlas site. Sinema continued working with stakeholders and hosted ongoing meetings throughout 2020 with the American Legion National, the American Legion Arizona, the VA Central Office, Philips North America, the Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services, and Arizona’s VA leadership to facilitate the successful implementation of a Project ATLAS site in Arizona.
During the coronavirus pandemic, Sinema has continued to champion Arizona veterans’ access to care. In a recent Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing, Sinema discussed how efforts like Project ATLAS can help VA continue expanding telehealth services for Arizona veterans. In August, the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee approved Sinema’s bipartisan VA Mission Telehealth Clarification Act, which allows VA health trainees to train on and utilize the VA telehealth system to reduce the spread of the coronavirus and save lives.