HOT SPRINGS -- American flags fluttered in the breeze along the driveways leading up to Hot Springs Battle Mountain VA facility Wednesday morning, June 14, when about 100 people gathered to celebrate the formal opening of the U.S. Veterans Administrations, Black Hills Health Care System (VA/BHHCS), Member Services Call Center.
The Call Center, one of seven similar facilities across the nation, will handle some 40,000 phone calls per day from veterans who are requesting healthcare from the VA or have questions about their VA healthcare eligibility or prescriptions, according to Matthew Eitutis, Executive Director of the VA’s Veterans Health Administration Member Services department.
The center will eventually employ 120 to 130 people, and serve as a “gateway” to get veterans so deserving of VA care into the system, Eitutis said.
Currently, 48 employees, who will bring a $2 million economic impact into the region, work at the center, Eitutis said, although he expected to have 90 employees hired by October, and the full staff of 120 to 130 people by the end of the fiscal year.
These employees help get some 30 veterans per day enrolled for VA healthcare and answer questions about enrollments and prescriptions, he told those gathered.
Hot Springs’ Battle Mountain facility was Eitutis’s first option when the idea of a new call center appeared on the horizon. Eitutis worked for the VA in Hot Springs and at Fort Meade near Sturgis on two previous occasions, and fell in love with the Black Hills.
Eitutis also talked about expanding the operation into the future, offering “Concierge Care” where Call Center employees would contact veterans – instead of the veterans reaching out to the VA, a 180-degree turnabout – to bring them into VA healthcare, since some 80 percent have needs for care.
This would fulfill both the mission and the strategy of VA’s Member Services, he said.