By ANNE ELGIN
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
In just a few short weeks the long-awaited mobile clinic for veterans will make its arrival in Bluefield.
Officials have confirmed that the mobile clinic will be stationed in Bluefield at the Herb Sims Youth Center beginning Thursday, February 13, at 11 a.m. A ribbon cutting and open house will be held at that time to celebrate the arrival of the mobile clinic in Mercer County.
The mobile unit will be fully self-contained with two exam rooms, a waiting area and restroom. It will also be able to maintain access to electronic records through satellite technology. The clinic will also have one doctor, one RN, a secretary and a driver on staff.
Al Hancock, a local veterans advocate who has been fighting for a veterans outpatient clinic in Mercer County for more than 17 years, said he is very excited to see the mobile clinic coming.
“I have seen the mobile clinic and is it very nice,” Hancock said.
With that being said, “if the clinic is not utilized it will be taken away,” Hancock added. “That thing is on wheels and I doubt we will ever see it again if we don’t see enough participation.”
Hancock said around 3,000 letters and a survey will be sent out to veterans across the county. He said at least 1,100 veterans will need to show an interest in using the clinic for it to stay in Mercer County.
“Those 1,100 people will make or break whether the unit stays or not,” Hancock said.
The mobile clinic will be parked permanently at the recreation center on Stadium Drive in Bluefield, until another location is determined, Hancock said.
After a long wait, local lawmakers are also pleased to see the clinic finally making its appearance.
“Bringing front door health care to Mercer County’s veterans has long been a top priority of mine,” U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., said. “February 13 is truly a big day and a win for area veterans with the scheduled arrival of the mobile clinic in Bluefield. I look forward to joining all the veterans who helped me make the mobile clinic a reality.”
“I am so pleased that the new mobile health clinic in Mercer County will open its doors to see patients next month,” U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., added. “Accessible primary and mental health care services for our brave veterans in the region will become a reality in less than a month, largely owing to the foresight of Al Hancock.
“I thank Al, the VA, the Beckley VA center and all those who have worked to bring this much needed health care access to Mercer County,” Manchin said.
— Contact Anne Elgin at firstname.lastname@example.org