By Brett Nachtigall
HOT SPRINGS – In a ceremony held just over one year ago on June 14, 2017, and attended by approximately 100 people, the then-new VHA Member Services Hot Springs Contact Center hosted a formal grand opening on the campus of VA Black Hills Health Care System in Hot Springs.
Located in Buildings 3 and 4 of the Hot Springs VA, the contact center provides 24/7 assistance to Veterans and their beneficiaries for eligibility and enrollment and pharmacy-related inquiries. The contact center is comprised of two divisions: Enrollment Case Management (ECM) and Pharmacy Customer Care (PCC).
At the time of the grand opening ceremony one year ago, the contact center had a total of 48 employees, who according to published reports at the time, brought an estimated $2 million economic impact into the region. The Veterans Health Administration Member Services has said they expected the call center to eventually employ up to 120 to 130 employees.
According to information requested by the Fall River County Herald earlier this month, a spokesperson for the VHA Member Services recently released a fact sheet that stated there are currently 73 full-time employees staffing the Hot Springs Call Center.
When asked by the Herald if the City of Hot Springs’ current effort to create an environment to spur Workforce Housing construction projects within the community was an important endeavor to VA, the answer was an affirmative, “Yes.”
“Many new Medical Center staff have opted to purchase or rent in Rapid City due to the limited housing opportunities in Hot Springs and employees seeking on-campus housing, waiting approximately a year for available unit,” the VHA’s released information stated. “Expanding affordable housing opportunities close to where employees work is an important recruiting tool for both the Medical Center and the Member Services Call Center.”
Included in the information requested by the Herald and released by VHA Member Services, it also described the duties of each department within the Hot Springs Contact Center.
“The Pharmacy Customer Care (PCC) team responds to inbound calls from Veterans and their family members concerning administrative medication issues such as prescription status, refills, change of address, prescription tracking, drug identification, and appointment information. For fiscal year 2017, (Sept. 2016 through Oct. 2017), PCC staff managed 2,632,007 incoming calls. In fiscal year 2018, (Oct. 2017 to date), PCC staff managed 2,159,428 incoming calls.”
“The Enrollment Case Management (ECM) team receives telephone calls from and/or generates telephone calls to Veterans, their family members and/or legal representatives concerning eligibility an enrollment matters and responds to their questions and concerns about health benefits, eligibility and the Choice program. The ECM team also processes Veterans’ applications for enrollment in VA health care programs. In fiscal year 2017, national ECM staff managed 1,216,764 inbound and 666,978 outbound calls, and in fiscal year 2018, to date, 708,407 inbound and 667,630 outbound calls.”
The fact sheet further states: “The PCC and ECM call center services fully support the VA FY 2018-2014 Strategic Plan, which will modernize systems, focus resources efficiently and effectively, and provide world class service and access to VA benefits and services for Veterans, family members, stakeholders and employees.”
Brett Nachtigall/Fall River County Herald
The VHA Member Services Hot Springs Contact Center’s two departments -- Pharmacy Customer Service (PCC) and Enrollment Case Management (ECM) -- are located in Buildings 3 and 4, pictured here, with Building 3 in the foreground and Building 4 to the right in the background.