Founded during the Civil War in 1965, VA Eastern Kansas Healthcare System in Topeka, Kansas was one of the first federal hospitals. Today, this hospital system operates a location in Topeka as well as Leavenworth and offers detox, residential and outpatient services to adult male and female veterans.
Accommodations and Food
The VA’s detox and residential program are run at the Topeka hospital. The substance abuse wings are closed units, requiring a key to enter and exit. This practice ensures that no negative outside forces enter the facility and helps enforce the VA’s strict no-smoking policy.
Each client shares a bedroom with another client but everyone has his or her own bed, closet space and bedside table. The VA is co-ed with men and women residing in separate wings of the facility.
The VA provides three meals a day during the week. The food is made by an on-site cooking staff who prepares meals for everyone in the hospital. The cooking staff always offers vegetarian and gluten-free options, and can accommodate other food allergies or restrictions. On the weekends, clients are responsible for their own food and usually order delivery or barbeque outside.
Although cell phones are technically allowed in the facility, clients are required to turn them over while in group therapy so to prevent distractions.
Treatment and Staff
The intake process at the VA begins with registering in the hospital’s system. Clients then meet with an intake coordinator in the VA’s substance abuse department who determines the client’s level of need. If the individual is unstable or going through withdrawal, he or she is referred to the VA’s detox program.
The detox program lasts two to seven days and takes place in a separate area of the substance abuse wing. This program is focused on stabilization and the client’s mental health as he or she goes through withdrawal. Depending on their condition, clients may participate in group or individual therapy although this is not a required aspect of the program.
The VA’s Fresh Start residential program lasts four weeks and consists of group and individual counseling. Clients entering this program begin on a Monday or Tuesday and always graduate on Fridays. Clients are in group meetings between 8:00 am and 4:00 pm Monday through Friday. The groups are generally seven to 13 clients led by one counselor. The therapy is CBT-based and focuses on changing the clients’ thought patterns. Groups also include education, sharing and relapse prevention. Individual meetings are scheduled based on the needs of the client.
When clients finish with the residential program, they are either referred to other outside residential programs to continue their care or they can step down to the VA’s Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP).
The IOP meets for group meetings three days a week. This program is offered at both the Topeka and Leavenworth locations, with the Topeka IOP lasting four to six weeks and the Leavenworth program running for four weeks. Counselors cover a variety of group topics in the IOP and work with clients to assign them to groups that best fit their needs. Some of these meetings include CBT, DBT, pain management, PTSD, military sexual trauma and relapse prevention. The group sizes in the IOP vary but are usually between five and 15 clients.
The VA is dual diagnosis equipped and has a doctor, registered nursed and LPNs on staff to assist clients with co-occurring disorders. This medical staff assists with medication management and can conduct individual counseling with the clients if necessary.
Clients regularly participate in outdoor recreational activities such as going on walks or taking trips to the local gym. The counselors and staff also occasionally have classes and groups outside if the weather permits.
The VA offers family groups that include the client, their family members and a counselor. These meetings are focused on substance abuse education and addressing any co-dependency issues.
When clients complete the IOP, they can step down to the VA’s aftercare program.
Counselors in this program tailor each client’s treatment plan to fit their needs as they transition out of the IOP and into real life. The aftercare program consists of both group and individual sessions, and the length and intensity of the program is based on the needs of the client.
The VA Eastern Kansas Healthcare System is a comprehensive and individualized treatment system. The small size of the residential program allows clients to receive a more than adequate amount of personal attention while in the program. The availability of the VA’s large medical staff provides clients with co-occurring disorders a great deal of support and treatment.
VA Eastern Kansas Healthcare System
2200 SW Gage Blvd
Topeka, KS 66622
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