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VA to announce plans for new clinic

ALBANY - Officials from the Veterans' Administration Medical Center in Albany will soon be announcing the latest developments in their plan to find a new site for a veterans' clinic in this region.

The Albany Stratton VAMC will hold Town Hall meetings May 26 and 27 to discuss updates on the opening of new community-based outpatient clinic offices.

The meetings will be held May 26, 1-2 p.m. at the Board of Supervisors' chambers in Elizabethtown and May 27, 10-11 a.m. at the Harrietstown Town Hall in Saranac Lake.

Albany VAMC Director Mary-Ellen Pich will provide an update on opening the new Veterans Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) offices. Following the presentation, an open forum for question and answers will be provided for Veterans and the community.

Officials from the Albany VAMC have discussed the possibility of opening clinics in at least one new site in Essex County and the Tri-Lakes region since late 2008 when the hospital opted not to renew its contract with Elizabethtown Community Hospital to house the clinic located there.

The plan most recently discussed involves opening a new clinic site in the Elizabethtown area with a satellite clinic in the Saranac Lake or Lake Placid area. A request for proposals was issued roughly a year ago for sites in those areas that would house the new clinic.

The search for a new site, or sites, has been ongoing since then with rumors of several vacant buildings being considered. Among the qualifications for a new site is a floor plan with 2,600 square feet of space.

The clinic at ECH is roughly half that size, but it is still in operation. It is widely expected the clinic there will close once a new site is opened.

In addition to the town hall meetings, Albany VAMC will be conducting a Veterans Service Outreach Day at each location: May 26, 10 a.m to 4:30 p.m. in Elizabethtown and May 27, 8:30 to 3 p.m. in Saranac Lake.

Representatives from the Veterans Service Center and the Watertown Vet Center will be available to provide information about VA healthcare and benefits. NYS Division of Veterans' Affairs Veterans Councilor Timothy Pierce will be available to answer questions about Veterans Benefits, both Federal and State, as well.

Veterans will be able to check their eligibility and sign up for VA health care and should bring a copy of their DD-124 form reflecting an honorable discharge. Information will also be available for newly returning military personnel from Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom.

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