North Country
4:51 pm
Wed April 16, 2014

VA To Open Medical Clinics In The North Country

Later this year North Country veterans will no longer have to travel to White River Junction for V.A. medical care: Clinics are now planned for Berlin and Colebrook.

The decision comes after several years of lobbying by the state’s Congressional delegation.

“Our North Country veterans are frequently confronted with travel of more than 130 miles and trips of two to three hours in duration,” Sen. Kelly Ayotte, Jeanne Shaheen and Representatives Carol Shea-Porter and Ann McLane Kuster wrote the department last year.

Those who “have answered the call of duty" should have accessible healthcare, Shaheen said Wednesday in a statement.

The first clinic will open in Colebrook, ideally before the end of September, said Deborah Amdur, the director of the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in White River Junction.

Once the Colebrook facility is operating the focus will turn to Berlin.

“We will be providing in these outreach clinics primary care, preventive health care and eventually some specialty care via telehealth," she said.

She said the plan is to link up with existing healthcare facilities although no decisions have been made on which ones.

“We may use some existing staff in existing clinics but likely we will also be hiring some of our own staff,” she said.

The clinics will begin by operating on a part-time basis, she said.

She estimated Colebrook has about 700 veterans in the area with about 1,500 around Berlin.

A VA spokesman said the cost would be “minimal” but a figure was not immediately available because there was still some planning underway.