Two months after North Hempstead town officials and veterans started a petition for a veterans outpatient clinic closer to home, a mobile veterans center for basic health needs will arrive in town later this month, Sen. Chuck Schumer announced Monday.
The mobile center will serve as an interim option while discussions continue with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for a permanent new clinic, officials said.
“Our local veterans deserve a more immediate solution to their travel issues while the VA’s review to establish the community-based clinic is underway, and this new unit is just what the doctor ordered,” Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a news release. “While we continue to make the case for a new outpatient clinic, North Hempstead vets will soon benefit from greater convenience for some of their everyday medical needs.”
The mobile center will likely visit the town up to three times per week, though the schedule has not yet been finalized, a Schumer spokesman said. Town officials said the center will be at the Clinton G. Martin Park in New Hyde Park.
“Veterans will have the opportunity to access primary care, podiatry care and many other services that they need and deserve,” Supervisor Judi Bosworth said in a news release.
Aging veterans in the town have said that it is increasingly difficult for them to travel to the nearest VA Center in Northport. Rich DeMartino, a Vietnam War veteran who served in the Navy, said the mobile center was a better and more convenient alternative to the long drive senior veterans now undertake.
“It’s going to mean tremendous flexibility for the veterans in the North Hempstead area and in the ease of getting any kind of medical assistance,” said DeMartino, 68, of New Hyde Park.
A permanent community-based outpatient clinic would act as a satellite location where veterans could also receive basic treatment, such as health checkups.
There are 47 community-based outpatient clinics in New York State, according to the VA website. Nassau County has two clinics, one each in Valley Stream and East Meadow. There are three clinics in Suffolk County, in Riverhead, Patchogue and Bay Shore.
In 2017 and 2018, 30 new clinics opened across the country, joining a total of more than 1,200 clinics nationwide, a VA spokeswoman previously told Newsday. The department prepares an annual capital plan bookmarking potential locations, and final decisions about VA hospitals and medical facilities are subject to the authorization and appropriations process, which is controlled by Congress, she added.
Bosworth said in a statement that the town would be a good fit for a permanent clinic.
“The Town is an ideal place for a Community Based Outpatient Clinic because of our large veterans population," she said. "It now takes our veterans hours to get to Northport’s VA Medical Center, and so this will have a tremendously positive impact.”