San Francisco VA Medical Center (SFVAMC) welcomes Denise Bartlett, MSN, FNP-BC, our new Women Veterans Program Manager.
Denise comes to us with a 23 year history of service from the VA Southern Nevada Health Care System in Las Vegas, Nevada, where she successfully launched their Women’s Health Program in 1993. In her last five years there, she served as the Women’s Health Clinical Champion and as nurse practitioner providing comprehensive women’s health primary care.
In her current capacity as the facility Women Veterans Program Manager, Denise’s main role is to provide leadership by establishing, coordinating, and integrating accessible high-quality health care services within our facility, and educate staff and the community about the Women Veterans Program.
“One basic culture change I would like to see, in using terminology, is for us to get away from saying ‘him’ and ‘his,’ says Denise. “One of the hardest things, I think, for women Veterans coming into the VA, is that they’re often called ‘Mr.’ We should instead consider addressing each person as the Veteran or the patient.”
“Especially when a Veteran walks in and presents to any department, the first question probably should be, ‘How can I help you? Do you have an appointment today?’ says Denise. “You should always assume that the woman approaching the desk is the Veteran. If she’s not the Veteran, that’s OK. But if she is, it changes her whole experience, because she was acknowledged as a Veteran.”
Besides fostering a culture of being gender sensitive, validating and acknowledging woman Veterans, Denise says she is looking forward to sharing the facility’s new Women’s Health Strategic Plan—an essential guide for protocols, initiatives, programs, and services designed to improve and expand women Veterans’ VA health care at every level. Additionally, she’ll be getting to know Veterans in the community and our VA, and contributing to and enhancing outreach programs.
Another goal is to expand awareness that SFVAMC has a comprehensive Women’s Health Center, previously entitled Women’s Clinic. “Our Women’s Health Center offers multiple services including a separate waiting room for women. It’s an all-inclusive area where we provide primary care, mental health, social services, gynecology, and more.”
February is Women’s Healthy Heart Month, and one of Denise’s first initiatives is to support Go Red For Women on February 7 to raise awareness of heart disease, the top killer of men and women in America. “The symptoms can present differently in women than in men, so this helps heighten awareness and gives women tips on how to recognize an impending heart attack, and how to prevent heart disease,” says Denise. “You can change health factors such as smoking, cholesterol, your weight, lower your blood pressure, and exercise—all of these things we encourage our Veterans to do to feel better.”
“We encourage everyone to wear red on February 7, and stop by the stairwell alcove in Bldg. 7 on the ground floor near the Canteen, from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m., for information, tips and goodie bag giveaways,” says Denise.
“We want the VA to be women Veterans’ provider of choice for healthcare,” says Denise.
To make an appointment at the Women’s Health Center, call (415) 750-2174. For more information about SFVAMC’s Women Veterans Program, call Denise Bartlett at (415) 221-4810, ext. 3956.