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New VA clinic taking stress off Fayetteville hospital

Posted November 23, 2015

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— After a seven-year wait, a new U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs outpatient clinic in Fayetteville started seeing patients this month.

The 250,000-square-foot VA clinic on Raeford Road should shorten the amount of time it takes for veterans to get medical treatment, officials said.

"We will be able to accommodate all of the veterans who are currently waiting for primary care, which is the point of entry into the VA process of care," said Dr. Robert Cummings, deputy chief of staff at the Fayetteville VA Medical Center.

Cummings said 40 new primary care doctors will be working at the outpatient clinic by early next year.

A federal study last year found the Fayetteville VA hospital had the second-longest wait nationwide to see a doctor. While the national average was 6.95 days, veterans in the Fayetteville area had to wait an average of 28.45 days.

The outpatient clinic allows the VA to consolidate its primary care services at one location. Mental health services, an outpatient surgical center and specialty care also are available at the clinic.

"Right now, it’s kind of nice," veteran Jim Schuyler said. "Hopefully, the service will be a little bit better."

VA officials said they expect 40,000 patients a year will use the outpatient facility, freeing up space at the 75-year-old VA hospital on Ramsey Street for much-needed renovations for expanded services.

With Fayetteville’s veteran population growing at about seven time the rate of other places nationwide, however, officials projected that the VA will outgrow the new clinic in about three years.

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