July 12, 2013

Manchin, Rockefeller, Rahall Announce Mobile and Tele-Health Clinics for Veterans

Senators, Congressman Helped Make Clinics a Reality

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Senators Joe Manchin and Jay Rockefeller, along with Congressman Nick Rahall (all D-WV), today announced that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will bring a new mobile health clinic and a tele-health clinic to Mercer County to help the growing number of veterans in the area access needed mental health and medical services. The tele-health clinic is expected to open and begin to serve patients in fall 2013.

 “When our veterans return home, they deserve access to the best treatment and care that is available,” said Manchin.  “This is truly a great day for the veterans of the Mercer County area, and much of it is because of a very special veteran, Al Hancock.  Al has spent his life serving our country: he’s a retired Air Force veteran with two tours to Vietnam and also a retired schoolteacher.  And, he’s worked for 17 years to make this a reality for the veterans of Mercer County.  I applaud Al, the VA, and all those who have worked to bring this health care access to Mercer County.”

 “I’ve always told our veterans I would stop at nothing to make sure they could get the care they rightly deserve and so bravely earned. I’m glad the VA heard our concerns and acted. Now veterans in Mercer County will have more immediate access to critical primary and mental health care services,” said Rockefeller, who started working five years ago to extend veterans’ health services in Mercer County. “Our veterans should never have to travel for miles and miles to get the care and support they need – and deserve. This is a great day for our veterans in Mercer County and I know there are more ahead.” 

 “Having urged VA officials to reassess the veterans population in Mercer County and the surrounding area and to expand access to local health services for veterans, I think this is a golden opportunity to chart a new and promising path for area veterans,” said Rep. Rahall, a senior member of the House Military Veterans Caucus. “We are making progress with the VA and I hope our veterans will take full advantage of the technology and services that a new telehealth facility and mobile clinic will make available. Certainly, I will continue to press the VA to respond to veterans’ needs in southern West Virginia and do all that I can to support the VA staff in serving our veterans. I commend the vigilant efforts of local leaders on this matter and the VA for responding to the needs of area veterans.”   

 Because the number of veterans in Mercer County and the surrounding area has increased, the VA Secretary Eric Shinseki agreed to establish a mobile health clinic and a tele-health clinic in Mercer County, to address the primary and mental health needs of West Virginia veterans.

 The mobile health clinic will be an extension of the Beckley VA Medical Center. The fully self-contained center will include two exam rooms, a waiting area and a restroom, and maintain access to electronic records through the use of satellite technology. Delivery of the mobile clinic typically takes about six to eight months.  The Mercer County tele-health facility is expected to open in the fall. It will provide tele-mental health services and access to a variety of specialty consultative services including tele-dermatology, gynecology, general surgery and the weight management program.

 Rockefeller, Manchin, and Rahall worked with the VA, the Beckley VA Medical Center, and local veterans to get the VA to approve the mobile health and tele-health clinics in Mercer County. Rockefeller has continually worked with the director of the Beckley VA Medical Center to find ways to provide the important mental health and medical services that veterans in the area need. Over the years, he has worked hard to establish and expand the network of Community-Based Outreach Clinics in the state – including one for Mercer County.