EMPORIA, (KSNT)— The first “ATLAS” Telehealth pod in Kansas has officially opened.

Kansas U.S. Senator Jerry Moran joined Veterans Affairs officials at American Legion Ball-McColm Post 5 in Emporia to unveil the new pod on Wednesday.

The Telehealth pod is designed with Phillips and equipped with high-speed internet. It’s geared toward connecting veterans with health providers, especially those that may have limited broadband access in rural areas.

“Phillips and the American Legion came together to make certain that veterans across our country have access to health services and, in many instances, better access to mental health services,” Sen. Moran said. 

In addition to the new site in Emporia, there are 12 ATLAS sites across the country.

“ATLAS” stands for Accessing Telehealth Through Local Area Stations. ATLAS sites, like the latest one in Emporia, offer services that do not require hands-on exams, such as primary care, mental health care, and other specialty services. The pilot program serves more than 9 million veterans who receive care through Veterans Affairs, VA.

Moran said he worked closely with the VA to get a Telehealth pod set up in Kansas.

This comes at a time when people are changing the way they connect with care providers. 

Dr. Neil Evans, chief officer of VA’s Office of Connected Care, said this is happening at a larger scale since the pandemic.

Just last year, more than 9.5 million video visits occurred between VA staff and veterans delivering care into the home or into community sites like this,” Evans said. “We need to be here for veterans where they are, in their homes, and in their communities.”