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Temporary VA clinic opens in Hville
webVA clinic opens 004
medical support assistant Sara Caldwell, seated, clinic nurse manager Jennifer Stokes and primary care physician Dr. Sunday Usifo greet a patient. - photo by Photo by Denise Etheridge

A new temporary veterans’ community-based outpatient clinic in Hinesville was seeing patients back-to-back almost immediately Tuesday morning after the clinic opened its doors.
“We’ve been hopping,” VA clinic nurse manager Jennifer Stokes said.
Clinic staff saw about 20 patients by 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, Stokes said. The nurse manager said most of the patients who walked into the clinic on its first day open wanted information on how to get VA benefits, refill medications or make appointments. Other patients had blood drawn or had previously made appointments for that afternoon, Kevin Able with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs said. A grand opening for the temporary clinic is set for mid-August, Able said.
In addition to the two regular primary-care physicians on staff, the clinic will offer laboratory services, women’s health, services for OEF/OIF veterans and some telemedical services, according to Stokes. Those needing psychological counseling can have telemental health sessions in the privacy of a clinic room with a mental health provider, Stokes said. Teleretinal imaging for diabetic patients is also available, she said.
Along with Hinesville, other community based outpatient clinics stemming from Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center in Charleston, S.C., are located in Savannah, and Beaufort, Trident, Goose Creek and Myrtle Beach, S.C., according to Stokes.
Stokes said the purpose for VA’s community based outpatient clinics is to meet veterans’ needs in the communities where they live. One of her goals is to network with other veterans groups, such as the local Disabled American Veterans chapter, to help veterans navigate “the system” and “get them the services they so desperately need and so desperately deserve,” she said.
Stokes said some of the patients who walked into the clinic Tuesday morning had never received VA benefits before and needed to be pointed in the right direction.
“We’re all working together to get these veterans taken care of,” she said.
Stokes explained the VA has transitioned to a clinical care module where each veteran is aligned with a primary care team. Services such as instant messaging are being implemented so patients can access their care providers online at when they have a question or concern. An on-site pharmacy also will soon be provided to clinic patients, Stokes added.
The 5,000-square foot interim clinic is located in Suite 102 at the Patriot Center on East Gen. Stewart Way and will serve up to 7,200 patients, according to Able.
A site to build a 23,348-square foot permanent VA clinic will be located at the corner of Memorial Drive and Highway 84, where the Mills House now sits. The permanent facility will serve up to 12,000 veterans and offer primary care, mental health, select specialty care, general radiology, women’s health and optometry, according to the VA. Construction on the permanent clinic likely won’t begin until late 2013.
A telephone number for the new clinic was not available by press time.

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