Contact: Wes Climer (202) 225 2576
Congressman McHenry Announces Lease Signed For Hickory Veterans Clinic
Washington, Nov 20 -
Today, Congressman Patrick McHenry (R-NC-10) announced that the Veterans Administration (VA) has signed a lease for the future location of a Veterans’ Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) in Hickory, North Carolina.
The Clinic will be located at 1170 Fairgrove Church Road in Hickory. It will be staffed by thirty-six full-time personnel under the supervision of the Salisbury VA Clinic, including five primary care physicians and other specialists in mental health and eye care.
“This is great news and a significant step forward in delivering a long overdue promise to Western North Carolina veterans,” said Congressman McHenry. “Since day one, I’ve been fighting to get this clinic up and running for our veterans. I’m thrilled the VA has signed the lease.”
“The brave men and women of America’s Armed Services deserve the finest care and services when they return home, and our veterans have waited far too long for this clinic. I’m going to continue to keep a very close eye on its progress to ensure there isn’t further unnecessary delay.”
The interim clinic will serve veterans living in Alexander, Burke, Caldwell, Catawba, Iredell, Lincoln and Wilkes counties. The clinic’s initial enrollment will include 5,400 patients for primary care.
Since his first election, Congressman McHenry has worked hard to build on the efforts of his predecessor, former Congressman Cass Ballenger, to expedite the construction of a CBOC in Hickory, the population center of the Tenth Congressional District.
“Having hauled as many veterans up to Oteen [Veterans’ Hospital in Buncombe County] as I have, and recognizing what lousy service they got, I’m glad somebody’s taking charge to make sure the local veterans get the care they deserve,” said former Congressman Ballenger.
Congressman McHenry has pressed the VA repeatedly to expedite the facility’s construction, including seven separate direct communications in 2007 alone. As part of this effort, he and Senators Dole and Burr (R-NC) sent a letter to then VA Secretary Nicholson in May requesting detailed information about plans for the clinic.
Then, in June, Congressman McHenry gained a strong ally in his fight for the Hickory CBOC when he went to the House floor to engage in a lengthy colloquy about the Clinic with Chet Edwards (D-TX) who is Chairman of the House Appropriations Military Construction and Veterans Administration Subcommittee.
Chairman Edwards lauded Congressman McHenry’s efforts on behalf of Western North Carolina Veterans, and said, “I believe the gentleman has a right to get a response from the Department and I would encourage the gentleman to continue working with the Senators from North Carolina in asking the Administration to provide a response to your inquiry.”
Following his discussion with Rep. Edwards, Congressman McHenry brought then-VA Secretary Nicholson into his Washington office to demand an explanation for the delay and strongly encourage him to take immediate action to expedite the CBOC’s construction.
Shortly thereafter, the VA announced that it would pursue a two-phased approach to construct the Hickory Clinic in order to more quickly begin the provision of quality services to local Veterans.
In phase one, for which the lease was signed yesterday, a 10,000 square foot interim clinic will be established while a permanent site is located and constructed. The interim facility is slated to be in operation by August 2008.
“We are excited about the opportunity to take the next step in establishing outpatient services in Hickory to improve access to care for our veterans residing in this area of North Carolina,” said VA Mid-Atlantic Health Care Network (VISN 6) Director Daniel F. Hoffmann. “We appreciate the patience and support on the part of members of Congress, Veterans Service Organizations, and our veterans during the negotiation period for the clinic site. We will now move expeditiously to develop an appropriate facility for clinic operations.
In phase two, which is scheduled to be completed by May of 2010, a facility larger than 20,000 square feet will be built to provide a range of healthcare services to more than 10,000 local veterans. This facility will also be located in the Hickory area, and there will be no lapse in service during the transition from Phase 1 to Phase 2.
TJ Rose, a veteran of three tours in Iraq, former Mecklenburg County Veterans’ Service Officer, and active member of the Catawba County veterans community, said, “We’ve been looking for answers for a long time, but we have to be excited that there’s progress being made. We are not pleased that it’s taken this long, but are blessed to actually have a clinic in our area and not have to drive to Salisbury and Asheville. But we are pleased with how well Congressman McHenry has communicated with us on progress being made.”
Mr. Rose currently serves as East Coast Veterans Outreach Director for Valor Healthcare, a company that partners with the VA to open community based outpatient clinics.
Veterans currently enrolled at the Salisbury VA Clinic who live in the Hickory area will be given priority for enrollment at the interim CBOC. Salisbury VA Clinic personnel will review its list of veterans currently enrolled, and will then inform those veterans of that option. The VA Medical Center in Asheville will take a similar approach in working with veterans enrolled there.
Other veterans who wish to receive care at the Hickory Clinic must register with the Salisbury or Asheville VAMCs. This may be accomplished by phone, letter, e-mail, or on-line at www.va.gov, www.salisbury.va.gov, or www.asheville.va.gov.
For registration information, veterans may call the Health Administration Service Office in Salisbury at (704) 638-9000 or toll-free at 1-800-469-8262, extension 2500 or the Enrollment Office in Asheville at (828) 298-7911, extension 5030.
Veterans and their families who have further questions about the CBOC or issues with the Veterans Administration may also contact Joanna Rowe in Congressman McHenry’s Hickory office toll-free at 1-800-477-2576.