LAFAYETTE — A site for an expanded veterans clinic in Lafayette has been selected, but the contract has not yet been finalized, according to a VA Medical Center official.
The Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Alexandria is in the discussion and negotiation stage to devise a contract, explained Gerald “Jay” DeWorth, executive assistant to the VAMC Alexandria medical director.
DeWorth explained that more details about the site could not be released until a contract award is approved.
The local veterans group, Veterans Action Coalition of South Louisiana, has kept tabs on the process and alerted its membership this week about the negotiations.
“We’re at a point now where it’s pretty much a waiting game,” Dr. Jon “Skip” Palmintier told the coalition at its meeting Tuesday night. Palmintier heads the coalition’s medical advisory board and is a retired surgeon and Army veteran.
Palmintier said the new clinic will provide at least triple the current space and offer more specialty services to prevent some travel to the VA Medical Center located near Alexandria in Pineville.
Local veterans have access to primary health-care services at the VA’s community-based outpatient clinic at 2100 Jefferson St. The clinic is about 11,000 square feet and leased from Lafayette Consolidated Government.
The search for a larger clinic site began in November for a location that could be clinic-ready by April.
Palmintier told the group VA officials have confirmed that expanded services will include physical therapy, eye and hearing testing and evaluations, and dentistry services.
“That right there may take away 10 to 15 percent of people who have to go elsewhere,” he said.
Prior to the coalition’s meeting, Plamintier said the group is “pleased with all the hard work by the VAMC in Alexandria” in obtaining the expanded services.
The group is still advocating for more specialty care, home health-care serves and minor surgery — a “lumps and bumps-type clinic,” he said.
While home health services are provided at the veterans outpatient clinic in Jennings, home health-care services are needed for the Lafayette area, Palmintier said.
The Veterans Action Coalition organized last year to advocate for improved health-care access for area veterans.
To date, the coalition has received nearly 40,000 letters of support from the Acadiana community and an additional 350 letters of support from the medical community.
The coalition’s initial priority was to lobby for the VA to secure Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center’s St. Landry Street facility for a veterans hospital. The hospital moved its operations to a new location on Ambassador Caffery Parkway last month.
However, VA officials have said patient demand for services showed the need for a larger health clinic rather than a full-fledged hospital.
The Veterans Action Coalition’s next meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Aug. 25 at the Clifton Chenier Center, 220 W. Willow St.
At that time, the coalition hopes to be able to share “official news” about the new clinic and its location, said Rodney Hamilton, coalition chairman.
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