Cape VA medical center set for Feb. 1 opening

Work continues on the Department of Veteran Affairs Cape Girardeau Health Care Center at 711 South Mount Auburn Road.

Officials expect the 45,000-square-feet facility to be complete in early November, and the doors are set to open Feb. 1.

The center will feature virtually the same primary and specialty care clinics as its parent, John J. Pershing VA Medical Center in Poplar Bluff, Missouri. In fact, the Cape facility will offer a few more services to the region's veterans, according to Libby Johnson, administrator.

They will be able to access women's and mental health care providers as well as receive care in the areas of optometry, cardiopulmonary and physical therapy to name a few.

To provide those services, VA will hire an additional 100 employees at the center, and the 30 employees at the existing clinic will join the staff as well.

Patient privacy and efficiency are hallmarks of the purpose-built facility, and there is nary a wasted foot of space. Natural lighting pours in to many rooms. The wide hallways and front-facing areas provide plenty of space. The lobby will even have a "cafe-style" area where in a post-COVID-19 era, officials expect to bring back the ubiquitous community coffee pot veterans have grown accustomed to at VA facilities.

The existing Cape Girardeau VA clinic serves about 5,000 veterans, and VA officials hope the Cape center eventually will serve as many as 8,000 veterans.

We hope that number of veterans receiving VA health care rises, too.

While 5,000 veterans receive health care at the Cape VA clinic, the region is home to about 10,000 veterans, according to VA data.

Why have half of the region's veterans not sought VA health care? Reasons vary, from having private health care insurance to not being aware of possible eligibility to selflessness, believing others need health care more.

Veterans who have earned VA-provided health care should receive it as partial thanks of a grateful nation. We encourage veterans to find out more at vets.gov.

We look forward to thousands of veterans receiving care at the Cape Girardeau Health Care Center.