Bennington Veterans Clinic Hopes to Grow

By:  Patrick McArdle
Rutland Herald

BENNINGTON - The Veterans Administration's community-based outpatient clinic is doing so well after three and a half years that its administrators are hoping to expand, according to its medical director, Dr. Peter King.

In a meeting with Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., late last week, King described the 6,100-square-foot leased space on North Street in Bennington. According to King, the clinic's use has expanded so it not only serves as a place to see veterans but also a space for a home-based primary care program that shares the offices.

"Sadly, we're outgrowing it now that we've got a home-care program with 50 patients and that brought in several new staff. We're looking for more space to expand the facilities," King said.

Andrew Lacasse, staff assistant to the director at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in White River Junction, said Monday the clinic would not be able to grow in the short term because of the terms of the lease on the North Street building and the amount of planning required for a Veterans Administration project. He said he was aware of the clinic's success.

There are about 3,800 veterans in the Bennington area and almost 1,700 have signed up to show an interest in getting treatment at the clinic.

"They've got almost 42 percent of the veteran population to use this or to consider using this facility. Nationally, the Bostons, the more urban settings are extremely happy to get even to 30 (percent) so this is success right here," Lacasse said.

Sen. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., said he was familiar with the Bennington clinic and its success. The purpose of clinics like the one in Bennington is provide primary health care and give them an alternative to frequent trips to White River Junction, about two hours from Bennington.

"What you are seeing, in virtually every veterans community-based outreach clinic, is a movement toward more space and expansion of services for our veterans. ... I would think it is fair to say that we are making real progress in providing health care for Vermont veterans," said Sanders, a member of the Senate's veteran affairs committee.

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