University of Delaware signs deal to enhance medical services for veterans [video]

 (Nichelle Polston/WHYY)

(Nichelle Polston/WHYY)

Healthcare for more than a hundred thousand veterans in the Delaware is expected to improve thanks to a new partnership that combines research, education and clinical care under one umbrella.

On Friday, the University of Delaware signed an Academic Affiliation Agreement to partner with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC). The new deal allows students to advance their skills at the University’s STAR campus and the VAMC in Wilmington.

“We’re excited because this is going to bring our education and clinical care and research and innovation programs to the next level together,” said UD President Dennis Assanis.

The academic affiliation is with the university’s Physical Therapy program. Researchers will look at heart disease, cancer and other needs within the veteran population. According to Assanis those medical conditions account for 80 percent of the healthcare cost today in the U.S.

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“We need a computer scientist to help reach patients where they live, we need an economist to develop new financial models of healthcare,” Assanis said.

Vince Kane, director of the Wilmington VAMC says training for those kinds of jobs will strengthen the VA’s core mission.

“For us to be able to partner with the University of Delaware, the number one school in the country on physical rehabilitation to better care for our veterans means an awful lot,” Kane said.

According to Kane the partnership won’t be the first for the Wilmington hospital. It currently has an active relationship with UD’s School of Nursing.

Senator Tom Carper attended the event and played a major role in helping the deal come full circle.

“As U.S. Senator, few duties are more sacred to me than caring for our veterans,” said Carper. “This collaboration between the University of Delaware and the Wilmington VA Medical Center makes good sense-veterans will get the rehabilitation they need while students get a foot in the door at the VA, and ultimately help fill our growing need for health care practitioners in our region.”

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