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Waseca County In Running for New VA Clinic

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MANKATO, Minn. -

Waseca County could soon be home to a new VA clinic.

The Minneapolis VA Health Care Systems plans to open a newoutpatient clinic in southeast Minnesota and Waseca among four southernMinnesota counties are still in the running.

Each year hundreds of veterans in Waseca, many of themelderly, file into county vans or enlist relatives for rides to medicalappointments out of town.

Vietnam Veteran Ron Fuchs says, "Everybody from thisarea has to go to Mankato or Minneapolis and I don't like driving to eitherplace, of course, nobody does."

Fuchs was wounded while serving in Vietnam, so medical appointments, and riding to those medical appointmentshas become a common part of life.

Fuchs says, "Your appointment may not be until 10 butyou got to be there at 8 because someone might have an 8 o'clock appointmentand you can't leave until the last person is done."

But with the Minneapolis VA Health Care System looking toopen a new community–based outpatient clinic in southeast Minnesota, veteranscould soon be spending less time on the road.

Waseca County Veterans Service Officer Dennis Dineen says,"It would save a lot of travel time for them, they could do it locallythey wouldn't have to ride in our van and ride all day to get done with theirappointments, come back again, it would be a nice options."

Dineen say there are almost 500 veterans in the county whoget care.

Dineen says, "In 2011 that amounted 2.5 million dollarsin health care."

The VA is looking to contract with a private vendor who canprovide a fully operational Primary Care Clinic, which would include laboratoryand minimal radiology services. People in need of specialty care would stillhave to go to the cities.

Dineen says, "Eye clinic, audiology, hearing aidsorthopedics, any of the specialties, that's all in the cities, that's all inMinneapolis."

Faribault, Freeborn and Mower Counties are also in therunning for the new clinic.

The VA will be taking proposals from interested contractorsuntil May, and then will award a contract to the organization that can providethe best medical care and is most centrally located to give access to the mostveterans.

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