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Hagerstown VA clinic plans health fair

March 26, 1998|By BRENDAN KIRBY

by Ric Dugan / staff photographer

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VA ClinicHagerstown VA clinic plans health fair

The Veterans Affairs Medical Center will sponsor a health screening and open house in about a month to kick off its new outpatient clinic in Hagerstown.

The health fair will run from April 27 to May 1 at the clinic, which will open the following Monday on the third floor of the Western Maryland Hospital on Pennsylvania Avenue.

U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md., is to attend a grand opening in June.

"The veterans have been waiting for a long time and we're very excited about it," said Jack D. Shufelt, commander of Morris Frock American Legion in Hagerstown.

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Katherine Smits, who will be the coordinator of the new clinic, said the long-awaited center will give thousands of veterans in Washington and Frederick counties a closer, more convenient alternative to the medical center near Martinsburg, W.Va.

"It will be a much greater savings in terms of travel and distance to Martinsburg. It should also be a huge savings in terms of time," she said.

Dieter Protsch, a member of the Joint Veterans Council of Washington County, said the proximity of the clinic will make it easier on older veterans.

"We have a lot of World War II veterans. They need transportation," he said.

Shufelt said several veterans organizations run vans to and from the VA hospital each week for veterans who do not have transportation. The problem, he said, is a patient has to wait until everyone else in the group is finished before returning home.

That can turn an hour procedure into a day's wait, Shufelt said.

Shufelt said the outpatient clinic will eliminate much of that and praised the location and the facilities.

"It's beautiful. It's the whole third floor," he said. "It's like it's brand new."

Clinic hours will be 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, Smits said. The clinic will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesdays, she said.

The clinic is the first in a plan to bring health services closer to where veterans live. The VA hospital serves veterans from a four-state area.

The Hagerstown clinic will have a nurse, two health technicians and doctors from the VA hospital who will rotate shifts at the clinic. Patients will be able to use the clinic for check-ups as well as X-rays and some lab work.

Patients will be able to pick up their prescriptions at the clinic.

Smits said the health fair will give veterans a chance to have their blood pressure, hearing and vision checked, as well as meet the staff.

Smits said there are about 32,000 eligible veterans living in Washington and Frederick counties.

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