The Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans Hospital began hosting classes at its new Patient Education Center on January 29. The center is a space within the hospital designated for classes that target veterans’ health.
Although the majority of the classes were already being offered, the new center makes them more accessible. Additionally, the center is outfitted with a kitchen that makes classes such as a healthy cooking class possible.
Heather Brown, the communications specialist at the hospital, said the center aims to provide tools for every aspect of veterans’ health.
“We're looking not just at the physical health. We're looking at the mental health, the spiritual health, the whole person when it comes down to it,” said Brown. “Initially, these classes were held wherever we could find room for them. And it was kind of a decision where we really needed to bring in all these classes into one location so that veterans could use this area as kind of a tool for their health care, kind of a one-stop shop for their education.”
In Whole Health, one of the programs offered through VA Health Care, veterans are taught by other veterans who have already gone through the program. Stephen Gaither, the public affairs officer at the hospital, said the peer support model has been very successful in mental health programs in the past.
Other classes, like yoga and tai chi, focus on pain management.
“There's some alternative classes that help with pain management rather than relying on medications, helping with some alternative approaches that would help people who have chronic pain issues,” said Gaither.
Anyone who is eligible for VA health care can take the classes. Last year, about 690 veterans participated in the classes. In 2017, with the patient education center, hospital staff estimates that about 820 veterans will be served.