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Joint incentive funds enhance cardiac care for DOD, VA patients

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- -- Keesler Medical Center and the Biloxi Veterans Affairs Medical Center partner to provide care for both Department of Defense and VA beneficiaries through the cardio lab joint incentive fund. 

According to Lt. Col Richard Rowe, deputy director and chief of federal integration for the Gulf Coast Multi-Service Market Office, the JIF between the VA and DOD was created by Congress to encourage development of sharing initiatives at the facility, intraregional and national level.  

JIF projects compete annually for developmental dollars and must benefit both the DOD and VA party and support the VA/DOD joint strategic plan.  They must improve the quality and access to care for VA and DOD beneficiaries, show a positive return on investment and be self-sustaining after two years. 

Colonel Rowe explained successful JIF projects are awarded "seed money" to outfit, equip or staff a clinic or project.  After two years, the clinic or project must recapture enough workload that formerly would have gone out to the civilian network to sustain the salaries and other costs associated to make that clinic or project run.  

"There are numerous JIF success stories that have worked in other parts of the country," the colonel said.  "Our cardiac cath lab JIF would be a first for this area."  

The intent of the cardiac lab JIF initiative modernizes the existing Keesler Medical Center's angiography and cardiac catheterization suite to serve as a dual cardiac catheterization lab and peripheral vascular angiography suite to recapture procedures and treatments that are currently "leaking" out to civilian providers. 

Potential savings on this initiative is $1.1 million annually, with an estimated return on investment of $2.6 million over five years, Colonel Rowe observed. 

Maj. (Dr.) Steve Kindsvater, chief of the 81st Medical Operations Squadron's cardiovascular services, commented, "The proposed project will enable us to deliver the full scope of invasive cardiovascular care with state of the art equipment and staff to both VA and DOD beneficiaries.  It's definitely a step in the right direction."