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Archive for Saturday, June 17, 2006

VA set to open clinic in city

Office would provide outpatient services to Lawrence veterans

June 17, 2006

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Plans are being made by the Topeka veterans hospital to open an outpatient clinic in Lawrence that eventually could provide area veterans with basic health care five days a week.

Final approval is pending from U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, but the clinic might be open as soon as next month, said Jim Gleisberg, spokesman for Eastern Kansas Health Care System, which oversees VA medical centers in Topeka and Leavenworth.

"The initial plan is to start it for two days a week and as we build up our veteran (clientele) it will expand to three days, four days and eventually five days," Gleisberg said.

The VA's Colmery-O'Neil Medical Center in Topeka has been providing a temporary clinic in Lawrence two days a month at the Reed Medical Group building, 404 Maine. That clinic will be discontinued once the permanent clinic is approved.

A location for the permanent clinic will be announced after that approval, Gleisberg said.

The new clinic initially would be staffed by a physician's assistant and a licensed practical nurse. A social worker would be available certain days for mental health counseling, Gleisberg said.

The clinic would start on the heels of the discontinuation in May of a van service the VA had been providing to Lawrence veterans needing to travel to Topeka for medical matters. The service was discontinued because most of the time only one person was riding in the van, Gleisberg said.

Nevertheless, there were at least 17 people who used the van service, according to Willis McCorkle, coordinator of the service. The van was purchased several years ago by the Disabled American Veterans organization, and the VA then paid for gas and maintenance.

McCorkle, who scheduled volunteer drivers for the van service, was happy to hear about plans to open a Lawrence clinic.

"That's great, especially if it goes five days a week," he said. "These people won't have to drive over there (to Topeka) now."

Don Dalquest, former commander of the Dorsey-Liberty American Legion Post No. 14 in Lawrence, agreed.

"They have to have services for the guys coming back from Iraq, and the World War II guys are really getting older and need medical services," Dalquest said.

The Lawrence clinic would serve veterans from anywhere, but it is especially intended to serve those in Douglas, Franklin, Jefferson and Miami counties, Gleisberg said. In Douglas County alone there are more than 1,600 veterans signed up to receive various services from the VA, he said.

The VA locally and nationwide is having budget problems. There is a freeze on hiring administrative personnel at area VA hospitals. The mail-out pharmacy service at the Topeka VA has had problems with a contractor that sometimes cause delivery delays, Gleisberg said.

Last month, the inpatient psychiatric unit at Leavenworth's Dwight D. Eisenhower VA Medical Center was closed. Plans had called for adding beds at the Topeka hospital's psychiatric unit, but budget problems have prevented that, Gleisberg said.

The VA also is faced with a shortage of nurses and doctors at its Leavenworth and Topeka medical centers, although attempts are being made to hire them, Gleisberg said.

Comments

Sigmund 8 years, 1 month ago

Marion is absolutely correct. This country tends to forget their obligations to current troops and vets who have honorably served this country. Thank you for your service.

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geekin_topekan 8 years, 1 month ago

I know of at least five of the homeless that sit in the alley behind the dropout center and on the drinking steps across the way are veterans.Two are combat veterans from Vietnam.I know of one who found his way off the streets and has a job and home.One of the women who died in the park was a veteran.She was half blind from her experience in the Army.She didn't talk about it much though.

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rhd99 8 years, 1 month ago

WOW! For a city with the population the size of Lawrence, IT IS ABOUT TIME we finally start recognizing & assisting the veterans' needs! Where were you, Commissioners of now & the past?

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nonimbyks 8 years, 1 month ago

Well, hold on now... I'm sure the city council will require their own study and feasability study on where, hours open, and how it will affect the small businesses on Mass. This should take about a year or so to do just that.

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hockmano 8 years, 1 month ago

I think everyone would agree that the entire country needs to take care of our veterans a little bit better. Why should they, disabled or elderly, have to drive such long ways for care? If their needs were taken care of sooner, they probably wouldnt face the homeless issue as much. Hooray to the veterans who have protected our country! You are a better person than I. I don't think I could do the job that you have done.

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