Deborah Voydetich is an OTR and, before her retirement in September 2021, she was the national Occupational Therapy Discipline Lead for Rehabilitation and Prosthetic Services, where she represented more than 1,500 OTRs and COTAs working in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) across the U.S. The VHA’s OT practitioners serve in all practice settings and provide more than 1.3 million visits to a wide range of clients, mostly veterans, with complex medical and mental health needs. These clients live across the U.S. and abroad, in urban, suburban, and rural areas, making the VHA the largest integrated health care system, as well as the largest provider of telehealth services, in the U.S.
For the past 11 years, Deborah worked to build a foundation for telehealth as a service delivery tool within the VHA. She possessed and acted on a clear vision to help clients balance the priorities of the present with the unknowns of the future to increase access to care. She worked with other experts and zoned in on her own field to develop a comprehensive toolkit for OT practitioners to provide telehealth services to veterans. Because of Deborah’s early advocacy for telehealth, the VHA was prepared and ready to provide care during the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing veterans to seamlessly continue to receive vital rehabilitation services. In fiscal year 2020, OT practitioners throughout the VHA system completed approximately 80,000 telehealth sessions with veterans, which was a substantial increase from 2019.