Veterans have long complained about the lack of medical services in southeastern Massachusetts, and finally their calls have been answered: A new VA clinic is opening at 116 Long Pond Road in Plymouth.
The clinic is scheduled to begin taking patients sometime this month. A ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house was held Aug. 22, but the clinic was not ready. Last week, the phone system was being installed and an opening date had not been set.
“The veterans of Plymouth have waited patiently for this clinic, and I am thrilled that it will finally be a reality,” Michael M. Lawson, director of VA Boston Healthcare System, said in a statement on the US Department of Veterans Affairs website.
The 1,200-square-foot clinic is located in an existing office building and contains four exam rooms, and it will offer a range of primary care services from physicals to flu shots. It will be staffed by a doctor, registered nurse, licensed practical nurse, and medical assistant and will be open for business from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The clinic is expected to serve approximately 600 veterans per year, according to VA spokeswoman Diane Keefe.
“There is a big veteran population down there,” said Keefe. “They lobbied hard for this.”
Veterans have been pushing for a medical facility to open in this area for more than 20 years, said Roxanne Whitbeck, director of veterans services for the town of Plymouth.
“I think they’re going to be overwhelmed when they open their doors,” said Whitbeck. “We’ve just got a huge need here. We’re waiting patiently for it to open.”
Stanley Skrabut, commander of American Legion Post 40, agreed. “I think it’s overdue,” he said. “We can’t wait for it to open; it’s going to be awesome.”
For veterans who live in the area and on the Cape, the closest VA medical facilities are the Brockton campus of VA Boston Healthcare System and an outpatient clinic in Hyannis. Some have to travel as far as Jamaica Plain and West Roxbury to see specialists and receive treatment.
“The ride to West Roxbury, Jamaica Plain . . . it’s a haul. Traffic is brutal,” said Owen Hyams, commander of the Plymouth Veterans of Foreign Wars post and a disabled veteran who was wounded in Vietnam. “It’s going to make life easier,” he said, “for myself and my comrades.”
Hyams said the new clinic will be “a great addition” to the region. “Everybody is happy about it.” he said. “We’re overjoyed that it’s finally coming to pass. Our veteran population is aging.”