New clinic opens next to Missouri Veterans Home

Monday, July 1, 2002

To Genise Denton of the veterans hospital in Poplar Bluff, Mo., having a veterans medical clinic next to a veterans home is a great idea.

One of those why-didn't-we-think-of-it-sooner ideas.

Officials from the state-funded Missouri Veterans Home and the federal-funded Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center have teamed up to build a medical facility on the same ground as the veterans home at the Interstate 55 interchange with Highway 61 near the Jackson and Cape Girardeau city limits. The two government agencies are the first in the nation to partner in this manner.

"We saw this as a real opportunity for veterans to combine our services to one location," said Denton, learning resources coordinator for the VA medical center. "This way veterans can come to one place and receive their services here."

A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. Friday, although the facility has been open for a week. U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson will be the keynote speaker, and Tom Schulte from U.S. Sen. Kit Bond's office will also speak.

The clinic, complete with top-of-the-line computers and telephone systems, replaces one that existed at 1928 N. Kingshighway. That clinic opened in September 1997.

Denton said there was nothing wrong with the old facility, but the new one will be more convenient, especially for the veterans who live at the veterans home.

Charles Clendenin, a 24-year Air Force veteran who served in World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam, said having a clinic in Cape Girardeau saves him time and money.

By using the clinic and taking advantage of his benefits, he saves about $130 per month on doctor bills and medication.

"Of course, I spent 24 years paying for this," he said.

Before 1997, veterans had to travel to Poplar Bluff to get care.

"Five years ago, we decided we needed to take the care to where the veterans live," Denton said. "It was easier for us to come to them than it was for them to come to us."

In addition to Cape Girardeau, community clinics are in Farmington, Mo., West Plains, Mo., and Paragould, Ark. There is a traveling clinic in Salem, Mo.

Dr. V.J. Nair and Dr. Shantlail Karavadia serve at the clinic along with a physician assistant, two registered nurses, two license practicing nurses and two clerks.

State tax dollars paid for the 4,303-square-foot facility, which cost $849,000. The federal government will lease the land from the state. About 2,600 veterans are enrolled in the program.

bmiller@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 127

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