American Lake VA Medical Center

As another successful academic year comes to a close, it serves as the opportunity to highlight our department’s service at the VA Puget Sound Health Care System (Seattle and American Lake Divisions) and Madigan Army Medical Center.   The VA’s mission was set forth by President Abraham Lincoln: "to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan.”  The VA seeks to serve and honor the men and women who are America’s Veterans.

The Puget Sound VA hosts a robust academic multi-specialty eye service care line covering a broad spectrum of services within eye care including comprehensive ophthalmology, cornea, glaucoma, retina, neuro-ophthalmology, oculoplastics, refractive surgery and uveitis.  At any given time, four residents are based at the VA hospital, providing care for tens of thousands of veterans in Washington State.  Three full-time attending physicians – Service Chief and Associate Professor Deborah Lam, MD, and Assistant Professors Hoon Jung, MD and Aaron Lee, MD – provide oversight and serve as primary surgical attendings for this service.  A number of other UW-based faculty serve as subspecialty consultants for the VA patients.  The service is looking to expand in 2019 with hire of additional full-time faculty.

The VA Puget Sound Health Care System’s Eye Clinic received the 2017 Seattle Federal Executive Board award. The volume of care at the VA hospital continues to increase, with a nearly 50% increase in total cataract surgeries performed at the VA facilities since 2014.

In 2015, the VA Puget Sound’s American Lake campus was added as a UW resident training site for cataract surgery.  Under supervision of Clinical Assistant Professor Ron Sugiyama, MD, UW ophthalmology residents perform several hundred cataract surgeries at this facility annually.  The department also established a relationship with Madigan Army Medical Center as a refractive surgery resident and fellow training site. In turn, military ophthalmology residents from Madigan rotate through the Harborview Medical Center trauma service, gaining key skills in managing severe trauma that will facilitate their military service careers.

Surgical training is outstanding at the VA medical center.  A grant obtained by Dr. Lam permitted purchase of an EyeSi ® surgical simulator at this facility.  The EyeSi uses virtual reality combined with simulated instrumentation to allow highly realistic surgical training opportunities for our residents and fellows.

The VA is an integral component of the Department of Ophthalmology’s care and training missions.  This outstanding service provides highest quality care for our region’s veterans while also providing excellent opportunity for our trainees to participate in their care.

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