BLUEFIELD, W.Va. — Hundreds of veterans are now visiting a mobile primary care clinic stationed in Mercer County, but it has the capacity to serve hundreds more, a representative of the Veterans Administration said Tuesday.
In February, a new mobile veterans clinic started operating along Stadium Drive in Bluefield.
Local veterans have worked for years to establish a clinic, so they are encouraging people who have served their country to utilize the new facility.
“It has wheels on it, and if leaves, we’ll never get it back,” said veteran advocate Al Hancock of Bluefield.
Hancock said the unit was the third-best in Division 6 of the Veterans Integrated Service Network, which includes West Virginia and part of Virginia and North Carolina. Local veterans have been working for years to establish a veterans primary care clinic in Mercer County so veterans can reduce the number of trips they make up and down Interstate 77 to the Beckley VA hospital.
“They have fine doctors and a fine staff there,” said Hancock, who uses the VA Center when he needs more than primary medical care. “I get outstanding service at the VA hospital in Beckley. I’ve got nothing but praise for them, but that toll road, good gracious, that will wear you out.”
However, some veterans have complained about losing the “travel pay” they receive to help cover gasoline and tolls when they drive to Beckley, Hancock said. Veterans still go to the Beckley facility for specialty treatment such as dental work or eye care appointments.
“It’s not for a heart operation or to get your leg amputated,” Hancock said. “We do get good care right here in Bluefield.”
Hancock keeps encouraging local veterans to use the Bluefield mobile clinic for their primary care. The mobile clinic provides services usually found in a doctor’s office.
“I’d hate to lose this unit over $30 travel pay,” he said…