LAFAYETTE — Construction of a new, expanded outpatient clinic for area veterans likely won’t be complete until spring 2014, a regional Veterans Affairs official said.
In late 2010, the VA Medical Center in Pineville started the process of selecting a site for an expanded clinic to replace its existing outpatient clinic in Lafayette. The selection process was delayed significantly in March when officials detected errors in the paperwork during a legal review. The errors sent the process for the Lafayette clinic, as well as a new clinic for Lake Charles, back to the drawing board and resulted in about a year-long delay.
Now, the solicitation for prospective sites for the Lafayette clinic won’t be issued until later this summer, setting a possible opening after spring 2014, according to a late Thursday email response from Tammie Arnold, public affairs officer with the VA Medical Center in Pineville.
In meetings with the state’s congressional leaders in March, senior VA officials offered assurances of an expedited process.
A local veterans advocacy group, the Veterans Action Coalition, has followed the process for the past two years and initially organized to push the VA to purchase the former Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center on St. Landry Street.
The process isn’t moving fast enough for the veterans who need the services, said Tom Grote, the group’s co-chairman.
Grote said veterans have benefited from new services that were added to the Lafayette clinic last month and a few weeks ago.
One of the new services is home-based primary care for elderly or disabled veterans unable to travel to the clinic. Grote said the group is trying to raise awareness about the new service.
Only 23 veterans are receiving the home health care, Arnold said.
Added services include audiology, podiatry and prosthetics, which are offered at the clinic, with telemedicine services available for surgery and cardiology consultations.
Though not offered at the clinic, veterans also have had access to additional health services since May for: cardiology; dental; dermatology; ear, nose, throat; eye; general surgery; imaging; OB/GYN; ophthalmology; physical therapy; pulmonology; sleep studies; and stress tests through community providers who have agreements with the VA, Arnold said.
The existing clinic is on Jefferson Street and leased by the Lafayette Consolidated Government.
Adjacent office space is available and could provide room for more specialty
services at the clinic, Grote said.
His group is in talks with the VA and local government to explore the possibility of acquiring the space, he said.
The group meets monthly and its next meeting is at 7 p.m. July 26 at the Clifton Chenier Center, 220 W. Willow St.