Merced Veterans Affairs clinic aims to make itself more known Staff hopes to serve 4,000 patients in the near future
YESENIA AMARO - 03/27/2012
veterans are seeking health care in Merced, but officials at
the Veterans Affairs Central California Health Care System's
Merced Outpatient Clinic want to change that.
clinic serves about 2,800 veterans, but officials would like
to see that number climb to 4,000, said Dawn Golik, chief of
public affairs for the VA Central California Health Care
System in Fresno.
to see it up higher," she said. "We like people to know
that we are here.
The clinic, at 340 E. Yosemite Ave., has 11 staff members.
Golik said 4,000 veterans would be the optimal number of
veterans it would be able to serve with its staff size.
There are about 12,000 veterans in Merced County, and a large
number of them don't know there's a clinic in Merced, she
said. The clinic recently held an open house to make it more
visible. "We are trying to reach out to any veteran in
Merced to let them know we are there," she said. "And to
let them know that we provide a wide variety of services."
Some of the services offered at the clinic are primary care,
women's health and specialty care, such as dermatology. It
also offers lab services and limited pharmacy services.
Optometry and audiology specialty services soon will be
available once a month, Golik said.
"They can come here and get care and they don't have to go
to Fresno," said Shannon Deen, clinical nurse manager at the
A few of the speciality care services, such as dermatology,
are offered using telemedicine, in which the patient and the
provider are connected via a high-resolution camera. Deen
said telemedicine is effective and provides more consistency
in care for patients. For example, if patients need serv-ices
three times a week and they have to travel to Fresno, they
might end up missing some of their appointments.
"Telemedicine is not designed to replace face-to-face --
it's designed to provide access," said Mario Nunez,
telehealth clinical technician at the Merced clinic.
The VA Central California Health Care System invested $1
million last year to introduce telemedicine at its three
outpatient clinics, which are in Merced, Oakhurst and the
south Valley. The money covered equipment and hiring
additional staff for each clinic, Deen said.
Telemedicine allows patients to get some of their specialty
care locally, she said.
Travel can be a challenge because of the distance, time and
expense, Golik added. More http://www.mercedsunstar.com/2012/03/27/2285076/merced-va-clinic-aims-to-make.html