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VA still seeking clinic site here
Jack Kingston 8 05
U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston - photo by Photo provided.
Last week, the Veterans Administration announced a lease has been signed for a community outpatient clinic in Brunswick, but the promise of a temporary clinic in Hinesville may still be a year away.
The VA is currently searching sites for a community outpatient clinic in or near Hinesville. A permanent Hinesville clinic is planned for 2013.
“I’d certainly like to see a (permanent) clinic by 2013,” Hinesville Mayor Jim Thomas said. “We’d like to help the VA in any way we can.”
Thomas said the city could help the VA find suitable sites and potential contractors.
“They have to follow their processes,” he said. “We will take care of that issue when it comes.”
The mayor said VA has expressed interest in sites close to the city’s center and future bus lines. Hinesville is scheduled to have a city bus line in operation this September.
Liberty Regional Medical Center CEO Scott Kroell said LRMC officials would like to see the permanent VA clinic on the hospital’s campus. Kroell said LRMC does not currently have the space VA is requiring for a temporary clinic.
“They have told me they have two alternatives at this time,” Kroell said. “I don’t know what they are.”
Michael Dukes, a VA spokesman with the VA Medical Center in Charleston, said the VA plans to open a 5,000-square foot temporary clinic in the Hinesville area “as soon as possible.”
“We’ve not zeroed in on a location yet,” Dukes said. Site evaluators are ranking the proposed sites before moving forward with a contract, he said.
“We’re still looking at 25,000 square feet for the permanent clinic,” he said. “We want to provide radiology, mental health and primary care. This will be a full-service outpatient clinic. Any services they can’t provide directly would be forwarded to the Savannah VA or the facility up here (Charleston). Most people don’t need specialized care and can be treated in the clinics closer to their communities.”
According to Dukes, a permanent clinic in Hinesville will not be “fully fitted and staffed,” ready to open its doors to area veterans until early 2013.
Costs to open a temporary clinic and build a permanent one will be determined by location, Dukes added.
U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., said the VA is currently “ranking and rating all the contenders and doing on-site visits,” for the temporary Hinesville clinic.
“They have not been able to give us a time line because they’re not sure where they’re going to put it,” Kingston said.
A lease for a temporary clinic should be made by mid-year 2011, the congressman said.
In August 2009, U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., presided at a Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee field hearing in Jesup. Services provided by community-based outpatient clinics for rural veterans were discussed at the hearing. Isakson pledged to work with the VA in locating new clinics in Brunswick and Hinesville.
“Community-based outpatient clinics are an integral and critical part of providing veterans access to the very best care and services,” Isakson said in a press release. “I am pleased the contracting issues that have delayed the opening of the (Brusnwick) clinic for so long have finally been resolved.”
Isakson’s office stated it took more than a year to secure a site for a temporary VA clinic in Brunswick.
Kingston said the government has moved slowly on the community outpatient clinics, which is both frustrating and typical, but promised “It’s still going to happen.”
The Brunswick clinic was first scheduled to open in 2007, he said. An opening date for the temporary Brunswick clinic has not yet been set.
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