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Mikulski says clinic issue 'not closed yet'

June 26, 1997

U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., Wednesday urged the Department of Veterans Affairs to consider all options before recommending a site for an outpatient clinic.

Claire Hassett, a spokeswoman for Mikulski, said the senator sent a letter to VA officials in Washington, D.C., asking that officials pick the location that will serve the greatest number of veterans.

Officials at the VA Medical Center east of Martinsburg, W.Va., said Hagerstown was their first choice, but county commissioners in Frederick, Md., last week suggested their county for the site.

Hassett said all options should be considered.

"No paperwork has been signed or anything like that," she said. "We know the window is closing, but it's not closed yet."

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Whatever the decision, Hassett said Mikulski does not want it to delay the clinic's opening.

Hassett said Mikulski requested a demographic study to determine the best location.

"If another county is interested, look at where all the people are and see if they have viable shot," she said.

Meanwhile, Phil Straw, an aide to U.S. Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett, R-Md., said the congressman intends to visit Hagerstown on Monday. He will tour the Western Maryland Hospital Center, which has been pegged as a possible home to the outpatient clinic, at 9 a.m.

"We just want to see where we are with the project and just kind of get additional feedback," he said.

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