Chattanooga VA clinic plans interim expansion

Chattanooga VA clinic plans interim expansion

December 25th, 2014 by Kendi A. Rainwater in Local Regional News

Dee Dee Carroll, RN, left, prepares to take a blood pressure reading for Vietnam and Desert Storm veteran Glen Fulghum in an exam room at the Veterans Affairs Clinic in Chattanooga. The Department of Veterans Affairs has plans to expand their health services in Chattanooga by 2020.

Photo by Tim Barber /Times Free Press.

Veterans across the Scenic City can look forward to a late Christmas present this year.

Plans are on the drawing board and steps are being taken by the Department of Veterans Affairs, Tennessee Valley Healthcare System, to lease a 10,000-square-foot facility, allowing the clinic to expand its services within the next calendar year.

"[The new space] is huge for us and our veterans," said Christopher Marcus, manager of the VA's Chattanooga Outpatient Clinic. "It is very needed."

Chattanooga's clinic provides primary care for 14,600 patients, and 25,000 veterans in the Chattanooga area are enrolled for some type of services.

Marcus said the leased space will allow the clinic to hire additional medical professionals and better serve veterans, while the existing 40,000-square-foot clinic is being expanded into a 100,000-square-foot facility, slated to open in 2020.

The new multispecialty facility, which was approved in a bipartisan bill in Congress over the summer, will allow the clinic to increase the services it offers to include optometry, ophthalmology, radiology, orthopedics and podiatry.

Jessica Schiefer, spokeswoman for the VA Healthcare System, said the new facility will drastically improve veteran medical care -- but in the meantime, additional space is needed, and that is why the VA is searching for an "emergency lease space."

A public notice was placed in the Times Free Press last week by the VA requesting a space somewhere near the existing clinic off of Brainerd Road.

Marcus said the leased space will specifically allow the mental health clinic to expand, which he cited as one of the clinic's most urgent needs.

"The new space will be almost entirely dedicated to mental health," Marcus said.

"We really need to expand our mental health clinic, to twice the size it is now."

The exact plan for the leased building will not be determined until the space is obtained, but Marcus said it will be used to its full potential.

He said every corner of the current clinic is being utilized, and as space increases, so can the staff and the number of veterans served each day.

Contact staff writer Kendi Anderson at kendi.anderson@timesfreepress.com or at 423-757-6592.


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