Aiken VA clinic opens Monday

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AIKEN --- Friday morning's rain didn't dampen the mood. More than 100 people crowded inside the new veterans' clinic in Aiken eager for a glimpse of the facility, which opens Monday.

The new VA outpatient clinic in Aiken expects to serve 5,000 veterans from three counties during its first year of operation.  Jackie Ricciardi/Staff
Jackie Ricciardi/Staff
The new VA outpatient clinic in Aiken expects to serve 5,000 veterans from three counties during its first year of operation.

The Community Based Outpatient Clinic at 951 Millbrook Road will provide outpatient medical care to about 19,000 veterans in Aiken, Edgefield and Barnwell counties.

"I can't think of no group more deserving," said Mayor Fred Cavanaugh, who served in the U.S. Air Force.

Officials with the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta started making plans for an outpatient clinic in Aiken about five years ago, but opening a VA clinic took an act of Congress, which finally happened in May 2007.

Mary Snelling, the facility's manager, said plans for the clinic have "been on a fast track" since the federal government's approval last spring.

"This is going to make it a lot more convenient for veterans to get health care right where they live," said Ms. Snelling, a registered nurse who has worked at the veterans hospital in Augusta for 28 years.

The clinic's opening couldn't come soon enough for local veterans whose only choices for medical care were the VA hospitals in Augusta or Columbia.

Leo Passmore, of Aiken, a 21-year veteran of the Marine Corps, has been making the trip to the Augusta hospital since 1997.

"This is going to be great," he said. "It's close to my home. I can get here in just a few minutes."

Guy Haff, also a retired Marine, said the clinic will make it easier for veterans living in the northern, more rural parts of Aiken County

The clinic will open at 8 a.m. Monday with a staff of 17, who expect to serve 5,000 veterans in the first year of operation.

The 10,000-square-foot clinic will provide primary health care and mental health services to veterans.

Reach Michelle Guffey at (803) 648-1395, ext. 110, or michelle.guffey@augustachronicle.com.

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pro@this
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pro@this 02/02/08 - 05:59 am
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About dadgum time! I was

About dadgum time! I was getting sick of people coming up to me in Aiken for two years now asking where the VA hospital was in Aiken, now they finally got one! More power to the veterans!

wootchieone
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wootchieone 02/02/08 - 06:55 am
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Our veterans receive

Our veterans receive outstanding care at the Charlie Norwood VAMC and that doesn't just happen. We are fortunate to have the leadership, the medical community and the medical staff that is available to our deserving veterans and active duty military. Now we have the added blessing of this satellite clinic in Aiken Mary Snelling and staff can be counted on to do an outstanding job. The convenience of the location of the clinic is a wonderful boon to the veterans of Aiken and the surrounding towns.

prolifer
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prolifer 02/02/08 - 03:04 pm
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Pro@this, you are misleading

Pro@this, you are misleading the veterans, they still don't have a hospital in Aiken. It's a CBOC. Even if you don't know what that stands for, it doesn't have an "H" (hospital) in it. The hospitals are still in Augusta. BTW, still sick???

markxr7
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markxr7 02/02/08 - 06:20 pm
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Hey Profiler! Are you a

Hey Profiler! Are you a veteran? Do you know how really HARD it is to get primary health care services at a large hospital such as VA downtown Columbia or Augusta? This clinic will make a HUGE difference for those needing primary health care and mental health assistance locally you nitwit! "Semper Fidelis" to you Aiken! Do you know what that means Profiler? If you do I bet you never are!

condelieeza
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condelieeza 02/03/08 - 04:44 am
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charlie norwood was a good

charlie norwood was a good man, an honorable man, a decent man, a man among men. a man for all seasons, a man for all reasons, he was a saint, a falcon, a charger. he was a pro, an amateur, a red sox fan . his name , and the name of otis herring deserve to be on the va medical center. we miss u brother otis. we wont rest until your name is plastered on the wall of glory.
the time now is 3:44 am. please check your watch for the correct time.

underscrutiny
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underscrutiny 02/03/08 - 09:47 am
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primary care access is very

primary care access is very important, especially for the disabled who have trouble with a long drive and trekking through a massive parking lot/building to find their destination. patients requiring specialists, advanced testing, or procedures will still need to go to augusta or columbia.

charlie norwood's memory was honored because he was an advocate for veterans at the source of funding for veterans health care. it is a measure of gratitude not an attempt to minimize the value of veterans. he would be the first to tell you their importance.

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