Print New VA clinic opens doors
Written by Greg Ruland   
Wednesday, 28 December 2011 00:00

Northern Arizona Veterans Affairs Health Care System Director Donna Jacobs, surrounded by local government officials and health care providers, cut a red ribbon to officially open the new Cottonwood Community Based Outpatient Clinic on Dec. 14.

“In fiscal year 2011, the Cottonwood outpatient clinic served 2,245 veterans,” Jacobs said. “The new clinic we dedicate today is almost twice the size of the old clinic.”

“We intend to overcome the barrier of distance,” she said. “The result will routinely be more convenient, higher-quality and more consistent health care for veterans, especially in remote places.”

Donna Jacobs, the director for the Northern Arizona Veterans Affairs Health Care System, center, cuts the ribbon during the grand opening of the new Department of Veterans Affairs Community Based Outpatient Clinic in Cottonwood on Dec. 14.The new $1.3 million clinic has been accepting patients since November. Located on South Willard Street, the 9,500-square-foot facility replaces the VA’s former clinic at 203 S. Candy Lane.

The former clinic just wasn’t large enough to accommodate local veterans’ demand for quality health care. The new clinic is also part of a new VA initiative to bring health care services closer to veterans.

There was a waiting list of 1,100 veterans needing care at the old clinic. The new clinic is expected to reduce the list significantly, according to Rob Olson, owner of Cottonwood Industrial, the company that developed the site.

The new clinic expands the VA’s ability to provide primary care, which is the “comprehensive, everyday management of medical problems,” Prescott VA’s primary care unit manager Dr. Daniel Collins said.

Digital information systems, including telemedicine using digital and electronic diagnostic tools, will allow Verde Valley veterans to receive medical care in Cottonwood that would have normally required a trip to Prescott, Cottonwood clinic administrative assistant Robert Moreno said.

For example, a VA cardiologist in Prescott will be able to speak with patients and observe a variety of test results remotely. Telemedicine will allow Verde Valley veterans to obtain health services from specialists around the country that are not available locally.

Other services, like physical therapy, will still require a trip over Mingus Mountain, but administrators are exploring a variety of ways to reduce the number of trips local veterans must make.

A residency program through Verde Valley Medical Center that trains young physicians how to treat health issues typically experienced by veterans will also be expanded thanks to the new clinic, Collins said.

Although the new clinic will not have in-patient beds, it features a surgical procedure room, three triage rooms and 12 examination rooms.

Following Jacob’s remarks, Yavapai County District 3 Supervisor Chip Davis, Cottonwood Mayor Diane Joens, Councilwoman Linda Norman, Verde Valley Medical Center President James Bleicher, Verde Valley Guidance Clinic CEO Robert Cartia and several area veterans toured the facility and enjoyed cake and other refreshments.

“I think it’s great,” said Norman Norvell, who qualified to receive health care through the VA due to his service in the U.S. Army from 1945 through 1947. Norvell said he makes regular visits to the clinic for health care.