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Permanent veterans clinic assured in Mount Vernon

Veterans on Whidbey Island and Northwest Washington will soon have a permanent healthcare facility in Mount Vernon.

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray and U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen were joined Thursday in Mount Vernon by VA Puget Sound Health Care System Director Stan Johnson and local veterans and leaders to announce the permanent site of the Northwest Washington Community Based Outpatient Clinic.

“This clinic will at long last bring veterans health care closer to veterans,” said Larsen in a news release. “Local veterans have led the way in bringing this clinic to Northwest Washington, and Sen. Murray and I have been proud to be your advocates in Congress to help make this clinic a reality. Together, we will keep working until the doors of this clinic are open for business and veterans can get the care they need closer to home.”

“Northwest Washington veterans have fought for our freedoms, they have fought for this facility, and they are on the verge of finally having access to the quality care they deserve,” Sen. Murray said.

The permanent clinic, located near Skagit Valley Hospital at 307 South 13th St. in Mount Vernon, will bring healthcare closer to home for Skagit, North Snohomish, Whatcom, Island and San Juan county veterans.

After more than six years of working with local veterans on this issue, Murray and Larsen praised the VA’s announcement in February 2007 of plans to open a community-based outpatient clinic in the Mount Vernon area. In February 2008, the VA opened a temporary mobile clinic at Skagit Valley Hospital to provide primary and mental health services to some veterans enrolled in the VA system. In May 2008, this temporary clinic moved to a larger facility on the campus of United General Hospital in Sedro-Woolley to offer expanded services to a larger number of veterans.

The VA plans to open the permanent clinic in late spring or early summer of 2009. In addition to offering primary care services, the clinic will provide mental health, social work, pharmacy, eye, ear, X-ray and dental care. According to VA estimates, the permanent clinic could eventually serve more than 6,500 veterans.

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