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New doctor, expanded hours at local VA clinics

The Westport VA clinic.

The Westport VA clinic. Photo by Keith Lobdell.

— The Office of Veterans Affairs recently announced three items that will impact the care given to local veterans.

Peter R. Potter, public affairs officer for the Albany Stratton VA Medical Center, recently announced that they had hired a doctor to staff the Westport and Saranac Lake Community Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOCs), Dr. Thomas Socash.

“Dr. Socash has over 20 years of private practice experience in the Old Forge area and has served as Preceptor of Family Medicine Residents from St. Elizabeth Medical Center,” Potter said in a release announcing the hire. “He also served as an American Board of Family Medicine Diplomat. His experience and area history is a great addition to the Stratton VA and we look forward to his ability to serve your needs.”

With the news of the hiring, Potter also said that the two offices would now be opened five days a week. The Westport facility (Elizabethtown Outpatient Clinic) and Saranac Lake Community Based Outpatient Clinic will be open from Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. until noon and 1 to 4:30 p.m.

Potter also said that both sites would be continuing to using telemedicine technology.

“We have been able to enhance health care access by utilizing advanced technologies such as telemedicine, allowing VA to provide the highest quality of care available despite geographic location or local provider availability,” Potter said. “This technology, combined with increased hours of operation and staff dedicated to each site, enables us to provide veterans with greater accessibility to our highly skilled and trained medical staff in the delivery of both regular and specialty health care.”

Potter added that even though there were more chances for patients to use telemedicine, they would still receive face-to-face care.

“It is important to note that telemedicine will not replace face-to-face appointment accessibility,” he said. “It only serves to enhance provider availability while utilizing staff in the most effective, efficient and beneficial way possible.”

The Elizabethtown Outpatient Clinic can be reached by calling 626-5236. The Saranac Lake Community Based Outpatient Clinic can be reached at 626-5237.

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