Tim Calvert, Director of Facilities Management Services, with the VA is very excited to build not only a larger but more modern building. The "supercenter" is an upgrade from what veterans have available in the area and, when completed, the clinic will have a few additions to the services currently being offered. The facility will be a patient centered; 10,000 square foot building that will offer primary care, mental health, and women's healthcare. Tele-health will also be available along with lab and radiology services.
Angela Smith, VA Public Affairs Officer in Poplar Bluff, was very pleased with the community support shown at the groundbreaking ceremony in December. Smith said, "We had an amazing amount of support from the community with the band and fire department and it was freezing cold." The amount of support received makes the VA optimistic about the future of the new clinic. Calvert said, "I am glad to see the other veterans organizations and city government show their support for the new and improved clinic."
The VA interviewed veterans in the area to get their input on what services they wish were available through the VA. Calvert said, "We looked at other clinics in the area and evaluated what works best to incorporate that into the new clinic." Calvert wants to get the word out to veterans that the upgraded facility is coming soon. He also encourages all veterans to get enrolled, so they may benefit from the services offered in the new facility.
The existing clinic simply became too small for West Plains and the surrounding area. Calvert said, "There is a large veteran base in this area," and that is why the new clinic is being developed despite the poor national economy. It took approximately a year and a half for the clinic to go from concept to approval. "We want to provide more services and capture more veterans in this area," said Calvert. "This will be a clinic that provides services to the veterans and that is what we strive to do -- serve the veterans."
The new and improved West Plains Veterans Clinic will be welcomed by veterans in Oregon County. One veteran explained how difficult it is to have to go Poplar Bluff for some services. It is a challenge with gas prices being so high, and traveling an hour and a half to utilize services at Poplar Bluff because they have more to offer than the current West Plains clinic.
Frankie Smith, of Choices.tlc, a group which works to connect veterans with services, said "This is a very much needed and wonderful addition for area veterans. It is good that the VA saw they had grown the clinic in West Plains, and now the veterans that I have reached out to will be able to obtain services." Smith is excited about the community based outpatient clinic and hopes that will be able to further assist the veterans she tries to help.
September is when Calvert hopes construction will be completed and, if everything goes according to plan, the clinic will be open to the public in October.