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No changes planned in VA mobile clinic services

Will recently announced changes in Veterans Affairs mobile clinic services affect Farmville?

Though the McGuire Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center is expanding outpatient clinics in Fredericksburg, Charlottesville and Emporia, no changes are expected for the center’s Rural Health program outreach, which includes the regular mobile unit visits to Farmville.

According to Darlene Edwards, a public affairs officer with the center, the mobile health unit travels to Farmville approximately three times per month and offers primary care type services and outreach activities.

The medical center’s Rural Health program continues without any changes expected, she said.

“However, we always look to improve our access for veterans, in addition to our growing community-based outpatient clinics in Fredericksburg, Charlottesville and Emporia, the medical center utilizes the mobile clinic program to provide outreach to veterans.”

The rural health program outreach is designed to serve veterans in rural communities, she said.

The medical center has two mobile units that travel to approximately nine areas in the state, according to Edwards.

“The Richmond VA Medical Center operates two mobile outreach clinics to bring primary medical care and health education services to veterans living in rural areas throughout central Virginia,” the VA’s website states.

The VA’s mobile clinic No. 1 “uses a 40-foot mobile van, which has two exam rooms for privacy and a staff of trained medical professionals. Veterans are scheduled for their initial examination and routine checkups.”

The second mobile clinic is composed of the Rural Health Initiative Team, which is “committed to developing strong relationships within the community to better serve veterans.”

The clinic incorporates a 28-foot mobile unit to “conduct intake examinations to new veterans, the team provides VA benefit information, access to enrollment to VA health care and health education to Veterans in rural and highly rural areas.”

Vietnam veteran Michael Lund, of Farmville, who uses the mobile clinic frequently, said three particular aspects of the VA outreach program have impressed him: “their

knowledge of veterans health issues, their accessibility and their commitment to individual care.”

“They bring with them the VA’s unequalled experience in dealing with health issues affecting veterans who have encountered specific conditions in their service,” Lund said. “In the case of the Vietnam War, of course, there was widespread exposure to Agent Orange. Over the years the VA has generated detailed profiles of what to expect from such toxins and how to treat potentially related conditions … The VA staff also know how to recognize mental and emotional strains faced by veterans and can recommend responses that have been successful in similar cases.”

Lund said because the mobile unit staff also know offices and staff at the McGuire VA Hospital, “they are able to facilitate specialized treatment and follow-up care when needed. Coming once a week to Farmville in particular, the caregivers get to know their patients, who develop confidence in them.”