New VA Clinic Approved for Southern Minnesota

Posted at: 11/12/2012 4:58 PM
Updated at: 11/12/2012 6:40 PM
By: Dan Conradt

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- Life is about to get easier for military veterans who need to travel to VA facilities for medical care.

The Veterans Administration has signed-off on a new clinic in southern Minnesota.

But while we have a better idea of when, we still don't know where.

The VA calls them CBOCs -- Community-based outpatient clinics.

"They do have one in Rochester, they have one in Mankato," said Austin Veteran Norm Hecimovich.  "This would handle most blood tests, they can prescribe medication, they can do all the things a veteran needs other than when they need to be hospitalized."

And one day soon, there could be a new clinic to serve veterans in our area who are considered underserved.

"I was right in the corner of Cambodia, Laos and Viet Nam," said Austin veteran Arnie Earl. He knows too well the importance of medical care for America's veterans.

"I got shot in the head and I got a plate five silver dollars long and three wide up here and then it paralyzed my left hand and my left leg," Earl recalled.

And while the VA has a target opening date for the new CBOC:

"They're hoping by 2014," Earl told us they’re still looking for a location.

"What they're looking at is a place which could be Austin, Albert Lea, Owatonna," Hecimovich told us.

“If they put it in over by Albert Lea that would be super because it would be right off I-90 or I-35 and it would also benefit the ones in northern Iowa," Earl said.

“They're trying to get an area where you would have enough veterans that could be attending that," Norm Hecimovich added.

And soon, veterans will be spending more time getting health care, and less time on the road.

"I only have to drive ten or fifteen miles instead of 40 or 50," Arnie Earl said. “Veterans deserve something like this."

The VA will do a demographic survey to determine the best location for the new clinic.