Plans for expanded VA clinic in Dover introduced

U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, right, with veterans Tammy Hull and James Stewart, take a tour of the new Veterans Affairs Kent County Community Based Outpatient Clinic in Dover on Wednesday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

DOVER — As the area’s veteran population continues to age and grow, so does the need for wide-ranging medical services close to home.

Enter the new Kent County Community Based Outpatient Clinic, which will more than triple the space currently available at the Veterans Affairs location on South Governors Road in Dover.

The current medical clinic in Dover was built to accommodate a population of 2,500 veterans, but that number will grow to nearly 5,000 within a year or two, according to Wilmington VA Medical Center Director Vince Kane.

The new facility in the Blue Hen Corporate Center at 665 S. Bay Road covers over 29,000 square feet, compared to the current 9,000 square feet available. Expanded primary care, behavioral health, special services and telehealth options come with it, among other additions. Approximately 50 to 60 staff will be on-site, Mr. Kane said.

“It is a state-of-the-art facility, but it can’t be state-of-the-art just by its facility,” he said. “It has to have providers that are in there. They have to be committed to putting veterans first every day, in everything that we do. That’s our goal. That’s what we strive for, and our veterans deserve nothing less.”

A process that began with an application for federal funding in 2018 should bring an opening by the end of this year or early 2021 at a cost of $4.5 million, officials said at an introductory event Wednesday to promote the new facility. The Pettinaro company serves as the project’s contractor.

“Delaware is not a large state, but many of our veterans have trouble in getting to the (Wilmington VA) Medical Center, and this facility will help eliminate some of that travel and provide easier access to those services that (veterans) have earned … ,” said retired Delaware National Guard Maj. Gen. Frank Vavala, noting that the Veterans Day gathering was well-timed.

Retired Delaware National Guard Maj. Gen. Frank Vavala speaks as U.S. Sen. Chris Coons looks on during the introduction to the expanded Veterans Affairs clinic in Dover on Wednesday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Besides Dover, the VA also has health care sites in Georgetown and Wilmington. A wider array of services in central Delaware will significantly cut down on travel time, officials said.

U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., a 23-year veteran of the Navy and Naval Reserve, added, “With expanded services and more space, this beautiful new clinic will be a relief to so many Kent County veterans who will now be able to get more of their services closer to home, rather than have to drive up to Wilmington.

“We have a sacred duty to care for those who have sacrificed so much and served this country. Ensuring that they can easily access high-quality health care services like those that will be provided at the Dover CBOC is one important way that we can keep our promises to our veterans.”

Noting his role as an appropriator of federal funding for veterans, U.S. Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., said recently released money will cover $10.8 billion for veterans’ service and outreach, along with $12.5 billion allocated to emergency services.

“This new community-based outpatient clinic is absolutely critical to provide the outpatient services they deserve in a way they can access,” he said.

The new clinic will include 18 primary care exam rooms, 12 mental health rooms, five specialty exam rooms, three women’s health rooms, optometry rooms, an audiology suite, a phlebotomy lab, procedure rooms, telehealth rooms, conference/group meeting rooms, a staging area for home-based primary care, a physical medicine and rehabilitation suite, offices for care coordinators and requisite waiting, check-in, storage and medication rooms.

Additional services to be provided at the new CBOC will include behavioral health, social work, radiology, pharmacy, nutrition, specialty procedures and homeless services.

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