VA clinic eyes open house for Saturday

By:  Bob Audette
Brattleboro Reformer

BRATTLEBORO -- The Green Mountain’s fourth Veterans Administration Clinic will have its grand opening on Saturday from 1 to 3 p.m.

The new Brattleboro Community-Based Outreach Clinic, located in the Exit 1 Industrial Park, will be open five days a week and could become the primary health care center for veterans in the tri-state region.

Sen. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., who has been fighting for the CBOC for several years, said it has been one of the most personally satisfying efforts of his congressional career.

"It’s the least we can do for the people who have served our country," he said.

Sanders will be on hand Saturday for the open house and to talk with veterans, their families and friends and other community members who would like to see the new facility.

In addition, VA administrators will be in attendance, as will clinic staffers and Dr. Eric Pofcher, a former physician at Brattleboro Memorial Hospital.

Sanders thanked former VA Secretary Jim Peak and current Secretary Erik Shinseki for their dogged work in establishing the CBOC.

"What’s important about a CBOC is that as a nation we do the best health-wise for veterans, and non-veterans, to make health care accessible to people," said Sanders.

The clinic will provide not only primary care, but mental health care, lab tests and preventative services.

The administrative staff of the CBOC can help those veterans who would like to switch primary care from White River Junction to Brattleboro.

Veterans who can’t make the open house are welcome to stop in anytime to get a look at the new clinic or to talk with administrators, said Andy LaCoste, spokesman for the White River Junction Veterans Administration Medical Center.

Vermont currently has three CBOCs -- in Bennington, Rutland and Colchester. In addition, some Vermont veterans use the CBOC in Littleton, N.H.

Sanders is pushing for a clinic in Orleans County, potentially in Newport.

The new clinic will be open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. On Tuesdays, it will be open from 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.

A CBOC in Keene, N.H., has been held up due to the inability to find a suitable location. LaCoste said opening the CBOC in Brattleboro before the one in Keene was unexpected.

"We were expecting a rough time in Brattleboro and an easy time in Keene," he said. "We are still looking for viable locations in Keene."