Veteran care clinic to open in AlexandriaVeterans in the Douglas County area won’t have to travel as far to receive medical care. Alexandria has been selected as the site of a new veteran outpatient clinic. It’s expected to open sometime in 2009 from a leased facility to be determined through a bidding process.
By: By Al Edenloff, Editor, Alexandria Echo Press
Veterans in the Douglas County area won’t have to travel as far to receive medical care.
Alexandria has been selected as the site of a new veteran outpatient clinic. It’s expected to open sometime in 2009 from a leased facility to be determined through a bidding process.
U.S. Senators Norm Coleman and Collin Peterson shared the news about the selection in separate news releases issued Friday.
Alexandria’s clinic, along with others in the northwest metro area, will be activated over the next 15 months.
“This is exciting news,” said Ray Kallstrom, director of Douglas County Veteran’s Service Office, when contacted by the newspaper Monday. “Veterans will be able to get all their primary care here locally.”
Kallstrom said that the clinic will serve about 3,000 veterans from a 30-mile radius. He encouraged veterans who have not already enrolled in the Veterans Affairs (VA) system to do so in order to receive the care.
The clinic will provide veterans with on-site primary care staff, modern outpatient clinics, telehealth systems that permit patients to maintain regular contact with specialty doctors, and telemetry of health data or images.
The clinic’s national health records system will allow practitioners at even remote clinics to review patient records stored at U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs facilities anywhere in the country.
Alexandria Mayor Dan Ness, who has been working on getting a clinic in this area for a long time, said he was excited and pleased to see the project come to fruition. He predicted that the clinic will need to be expanded soon.
“We know the justification for establishing a clinic in Douglas County was based on old data and did not include much of our trade area in addition to the county itself,” said Ness. “I am confident there will be a need to expand the clinic significantly within the very near future.”
The mayor added that many qualified veterans are now traveling to St. Cloud or Fargo to receive their medical and pharmaceutical services.
“It will be so convenient for them to get their care right here at home, especially with gasoline costs so high,” Ness said.
Ness said that locating a veteran clinic in Alexandria made sense.
“We are one of the fastest growing cities and counties in Minnesota,” the mayor noted. We have an established medical hub and an excellent hospital in Alexandria. We are a retail shopping hub and a government hub as well. They and their families can combine their trip for shopping and services here in Alexandria.”
Coleman said it is essential to provide access to quality health care for all veterans.
“Our nation has been protected by the brave men and women who put their country before themselves and I am humbled by that,” Coleman said. “They need and deserve the best access to health care, and these clinics are part of that commitment.”
Peterson said that the community-based clinics are working well.
“Over the years, we’ve welcomed these important outpatient clinics in Fergus Falls, Montevideo and Bemidji, and they’ve been a great success,” Peterson said. “I’m pleased that the VA recognizes the importance of providing access to the growing number of veterans in our rural areas.”
In addition to Minnesota’s clinics, the VA announced an additional 44 clinics across the country. These will increase VA's network of independent and community-based clinics to 782, an increase of more than 100 in five years.
This growth in community clinics has helped VA improve veterans' care, with 98 percent of veterans seen within 30 days in all types of VA primary care facilities throughout the country, noted Peterson.
“I’m grateful to the decision-makers at the VA for helping to make it easier for our rural veterans to receive health care services,” Peterson said.