The Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Northport will use clinics on wheels to expand patient care to low-access areas in northwest Nassau County, Congressman Tom Suozzi said Tuesday at a Glen Cove event unveiling one of the mobile units.
“We are trying to get the VA out into the community where veterans are,” said Suozzi, D-Glen Cove, whose congressional district includes the medical center.
Northport’s remote location long has been a source of frustration for Long Island veterans, who say it can be difficult for them to reach by car or public transportation, and that parking can be a challenge once they arrive. When the Northport medical center was designed in the late 1920s, its out-of-the-way location was considered a plus in helping isolate tuberculosis patients treated there.
The mobile clinics will operate out of a specially equipped motor coach that has been fitted with a patient intake station, an examination chair, blood pressure and other diagnostic equipment, plus a sound-dampened auditory lab. The mobile unit shares data with the main hospital via an over-air link.
The mobile clinics will offer health care from parking lots at the Glen Cove Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 347 on Hill Street, and at Clinton G. Martin Park on Marcus Avenue in New Hyde Park.
The Glen Cove location will offer primary care services between 7:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. on Tuesdays. The New Hyde Park location, which opened earlier this month, will offer physical therapy on Mondays, podiatry on Wednesdays, and primary care on Thursdays, all between 7:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.
Currently, Northport operates satellite medical clinics in Valley Stream, East Meadow, Bay Shore, Patchogue and Riverhead.
Vincent Martinez, 83, of Glen Cove, stopped in for a flu shot at the Glen Cove location, which saw its first patients Tuesday.
The Korean War-era veteran said his deteriorating eyesight has made the more than 40-mile round trip from home to the Northport facility a challenge, and said he welcomes having a closer alternative.
“I’m getting to the point that they’ll tell me I can’t drive anymore,” Martinez said. “This will be perfect.”
Suozzi said he is pressing the VA to create a permanent clinic at Glen Cove Hospital, and hopes that broad usage of the mobile clinics will demonstrate the need.
“The more people see these facilities actually used, the more likely they will see the VA build a permanent clinic in this community,” Suozzi told a gathering of veterans Tuesday. “So, spread the word out and let people know this service is available.”