When the Veterans Administration opened a community-based outpatient clinic in Hamlet in 2008, it was supposed to help veterans from Wagram to Wadesboro.
At that time, officials praised the center as a place where local vets could receive quality health care closer to home. The 6,000-square-foot facility was expected to provide physicals, disease screenings, patient education, routine lab work, immunizations, and outpatient mental health services.
“The VA has done an excellent job of responding to North Carolina’s growing veterans population by opening new Community Based Outpatient Clinics,” U.S. Sen. Richard Burr said at the time. “This new clinic will help the VA to provide great care to North Carolina’s veterans.”
Four years later, some veterans are saying the clinic has not lived up to the hype.
A group, including some veterans from Scotland County held a rally Monday to express their dissatisfaction. Rally organizers claim that the clinic only has one doctor to deal with more than 1,200 veterans in Richmond, Scotland and Anson counties, as well as Chesterfield County in South Carolina.
A Scotland County veteran told this newspaper that he was concerned about the lack of continuity in medical services at the clinic. He said every time he goes, he sees a new doctor unfamiliar with his medical history. Other complaints have ranged from the clinic not being in the right place or as nice as the one in Pembroke to staff inattention.
There are other veterans who are extremely complimentary about the clinic and the service they have received.
Vietnam veteran Corey Gibbon said if were not for the VA, he might be dead. One cannot have a better testimonial than that.
Fayetteville VA Medical Center Director Elizabeth Goolsby seems to think the clinic and the VA have been responsive to veterans’ needs. She also expressed surprise about Monday’s protest since she said she had informed rally organizers that the clinic would soon have two full-time providers. The additional doctors is expected to begin this month.
Is the clinic doing the job or not?
It is too soon to tell. But we hope that those who were willing to give the ultimate sacrifice are getting the kind of medical attention and services that they deserve.
For those wishing to express dissatisfaction with the clinic or care they are receiving, talk to the clinic’s nurse manager or visit the VA website, www.fayettevillenc.va.gov, and at the bottom of the page, click “Ask The Director,” which allows veterans and their family members to send comments or questions directly to Goolsby.