New VA Outpatient Clinic

The Houston VA Hospital is one step closer to opening another VA outpatient clinic -- this one will be in Conroe in MontgomeryCounty, and it's scheduled to open early next year. Houston Public Radio's Jim Bell reports.

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The new VA outpatient clinic will be in some now empty offices near the Conroe Regional Medical Center, and VA officials have already signed the lease. Prime Care Director Dr. Jay Kalavar of the Houston VA Hospital says they'll open as soon as they hire a staff of about 30 people.

"We're going to have physicians, physician assistants, nurses, clerks, social workers, mental health personnel, a psychiatrist, a PA for mental health, nurses for mental health, all the disciplines."

Community Based Outpatient Clinics were created to treat veterans closer to where they live, and lighten the workload at the large regional V-A Medical Centers, but it's not turning out that way. Dr. Kalavar says their workload at the main VA Hospital is growing, and he thinks there are at least two reasons for that.

"We do want to believe that it's because of the excellent care that we provide in the Houston V-A, and that is one main factor that has really helped us to attract more veterans into the system. The other factor, in my opinion, is that we have more uninsured population. I hear every day that our veterans are losing their health care insurance."

The Conroe Clinic will be the fifth VA Community Based Outpatient Clinic in Southeast Texas. Others are in Galveston, Texas City, Beaumont and Lufkin. Last year alone, those four clinics together served more than 125 thousand veterans. Jim Bell, Houston Public Radio News.