Hampton VA Medical Center
Hundreds turn out for Primary Outpatient Care Clinic Grand Opening
As the saying goes ~ if you build it, they will come. When the Hampton VA Medical Center opened the doors to the Albemarle Primary Outpatient Clinic (POC) on Nov. 10, more than 400 community members were in attendance to confirm it.
“When I arrived this morning and looked across the seats, I could hardly believe that we could really fill this tent,” said DeAnne Seekins, Hampton VAMC director. “It shows how much this clinic means to the Veterans who live in this area and the pride North Carolinians have.”
The Elizabeth City, N.C., site was little more than a field located next to a pasture when the January ground breaking took place in the highly rural area. For nearly two years, however, members of the Hampton VAMC Rural Health Initiative team have been canvassing the eight counties surrounding the site for the new clinic, hosting events at such places as Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6060 to educate Veterans from all eras about Veterans Health Administration benefits and services.
“This will save many local Veterans from that all inspiring ‘white knuckle’ combat experience of driving to Hampton …,” joked local Veteran BMCM T.C. Oneyear as he stood at the podium during the clinic’s ribbon cutting ceremony. “Since the ground breaking, I ~ as many others ~ have followed along and watched it go from a plot of land to a fine looking building and at a great location. How exciting it is to now have this going into operation.”
The Albemarle POC will serve 2,400 Veterans who reside in North Eastern North Carolina providing primary care, telehealth and mental health service to Veterans within the region.
“This clinic will serve eight counties in northeastern North Carolina who previously had to drive hours to receive their health care,” said Daniel Hoffmann, Mid-Atlantic Veterans Service Network director. “Our goal is not only to provide health care closer to where Veterans live, but also engage them in preventative health care so they can live healthier lives.”
Hoffman, the keynote speaker at the event was greeted with warm applause amongst the pomp and circumstance provided by the U.S. Fleet Forces Band from Norfolk Naval Base that entertained the community leaders, Veterans and their family members who gathered to celebrate the delivery of the facility the day before Veterans Day.
“When they broke ground here in January I finally knew it was a reality,” said Phyllis Kondracki, a strong and tireless Veteran advocate and a driving force behind the Elizabeth City location of the clinic. “I have been raising awareness within the community, driving outreach programs with Veteran Services Organizations, and working with local government officials and congressional offices to expand VA services in the area since 2007. With more 17,000 Veterans in northeastern North Carolina, it’s very exciting to open this new facility.”
North Carolina Senator Kay Hagan praised the clinic opening. In her letter applauding the VA’s commitment to providing essential health services to the Veteran population in the greater Elizabeth City area, she wrote that North Carolina is committed to creating opportunities for Veterans to seek quality, affordable medical support. She also applauded the leaders, staff and volunteers for their contributions to the safe, independent and healthy lives of Veterans.