New Arkansas clinic staffed by VA; facility joins shift away from contractor-run services for vets

The Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System has opened a new outpatient clinic in Mena, staffed entirely with U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs personnel.

One of 16 community-based outpatient clinics in the state, the new Mena clinic is the most recent in the state to shift away from the contractor-run format to strictly VA staff. The Pine Bluff clinic will be the next to make the change, a Little Rock VA spokesman said last week.

Dr. Margie Scott, the central Arkansas VA medical center director, said the staff is excited to welcome veterans to the Mena clinic.

"It's a brand-new building with state-of-the-art equipment, modern construction and veteran-centered design," she said in a news release.

The VA's community clinics are positioned throughout the state to offer veterans with VA benefits closer alternatives to one of the state's VA medical centers, located in Fayetteville, Little Rock and North Little Rock.

The community clinics typically offer primary care coupled with a few specialty services, although the offerings have expanded in recent years with the development of tele-medicine.

In Mena's case, the new clinic, located at 300 S. Morrow Road, will offer primary care, mental health care, tele-health, and a women's health program.

The facility will utilize the VA's Patient Aligned Care Team model, emphasizing prevention and health promotion from a personalized team consisting of a medical provider, registered nurse, licensed practical nurse and medical support assistant.

Arkansas' other community clinics are located in the following cities: Conway, El Dorado, Fort Smith, Harrison, Helena-West Helena, Hot Springs, Jonesboro, Mountain Home, Ozark, Paragould, Pine Bluff, Pocahontas, Russellville, Searcy and Texarkana.

The number of veterans each clinic sees varies by location. In the VA's Northwest Arkansas/south Missouri region, the Ozark and Harrison satellite locations average almost 200 veterans each month, according to Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks Public Affairs Officer Wanda Shull. The Fort Smith location sees close to 1,300.

Shull said the regional branch is planning a relocation and expansion of the Fort Smith clinic.

The central Arkansas VA serves about half of its veterans through community clinics, a spokesman said.

As for the Mena clinic, it began taking calls on Sept. 30 and patients last week.

"Our mission is to honor and care for our nation's heroes, and this new clinic is built just for that purpose," Scott said.

Metro on 10/09/2017

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