Special Report: VA woes in Columbus area - WRBL

Special Report: VA woes in Columbus area

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New VA hospitals are being built in a few cities across the country. The construction reopens wounds in our area as local vets cling to the hope one will be built here someday.

James Talton, the Director of the Central Alabama Veterans Healthcare System, says several factors are used in determining where a hospital will be built. Some of those factors include the number of veterans in the area, the service already offered in the area, and the rate at which those services are used.

“The vet population for the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System is not a vibrantly growing veterans population. Clearly is not enough to justify building a new hospital,” said Talton.

But Talton says a Memorandum of Understanding in the works between Martin Army Community Hospital and the VA may solve that problem, eliminating the need to drive to Tuskegee or Montgomery.

“When their new hospital opens in November, we’re looking into the possibility of utilizing some of their capacity for a variety of specialty care including operating rooms including inpatient mental health, inpatient general medicine and a host of specialty services. For our Columbus area veterans, if the specialty care is available there I see no reason to have them drive here.”

Does that mean the issue of a VA hospital is dead? Veteran and retired Colonel John House of Columbus says it will be tough.

“The only way I believe to get it is for more veterans who are eligible to enroll in the VA health care system,” said House.

In 2016, a new 55,000 square foot VA Clinic will open in Columbus.

CAVHCS NOTES: The Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System is holding a town hall meeting for Veterans on Tuesday May 13, 2014 from 10 am until 12 noon at the American Legion Post 135, 511-13th Street, Phenix City.

Later that day, an Open House will be held at the VA Clinic in Columbus, which has expanded at 1 p.m. It's located at 1310 13th Avenue.

Teresa Whitaker

In addition to co-anchoring the 6 and 11 p.m. newscasts weeknights, Teresa serves as the Healthwatch reporter for WRBL. More>>

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