New Springfield VA Clinic to Enhance Access, Services
Officials have formally broke ground on a new Veterans Affairs clinic in Springfield that will serve about 9,000 more military service members.
Some 100 veterans along with dozens of spectators gathered Tuesday at the site of the new Gene Taylor Community Outpatient Clinic. It is being built east of Southland Christian Church along Republic Road.
The new facility, along with a planned building in Joplin that will serve some 5,000 veterans, will replace the current clinic in Mt. Vernon, which has served veterans for over 25 years.
Bryan Matthews, medical center director for the Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks, says to be successful the VA needs to place its clinics in areas that reach a large number of veterans.
“The numbers show that Springfield is a logical location for a VA clinic. And this clinic will have a large impact on veterans in this area, in southwest Missouri, in terms of access, quality of care, and a state-of-the-art facility.”
He says the space gives the VA 33,000 more square feet to provide care. That includes existing services like primary care and mental health, but also additional space for dental and endoscopy services, among others. In addition, the building will allow for 37 exam rooms, nine more than in Mt. Vernon. It also provides more space for female veterans, who Matthews says is “one of our fastest growing veteran’s populations.”
John Leech lives just over one mile away from the Mt. Vernon clinic, which he visits at least twice a year for treatment on a number of health issues. It’s where he gets his roughly 25 prescriptions filled.
“It’s not gonna hurt to drive 35 to 40 miles,” he says.
But for those that are impacted by the clinic’s relocation, Matthews says assistance will be offered.
“The VSO (Veterans Service Organizations) will continue to explore opportunities with our partners; the DAB, the Disabled American Veteran organization, to provide transportation so that veterans impacted may attend their appointment without difficulty.”
Jan Lile is retired Air Force member and part of the America Legion Post 1214, Women’s Veterans of Southwest Missouri. She calls the Springfield clinic another step forward for veterans’ healthcare.
“As you heard we’re [the] fastest growing population of veterans, and so we need women’s care here instead of having to go down to Fayetteville for specialty care,” says Lile.
Construction is slated for completion in 2018. Matthews hopes the Springfield facility opens around the same time the one in Joplin does. He says officials are currently in the site selection phase and intend to announce a location soon.