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Veterans Affairs Opens New Permian Basin Outpatient Clinic

Amid a national controversy, the West Texas Veterans Affairs Health Care System opened its new Permian Basin Outpatient Clinic Monday.
Amid a national controversy, the West Texas Veterans Affairs Health Care System opened its new Permian Basin Outpatient Clinic Monday.

Organizers had initially planned a large ribbon cutting ceremony, but after news about long wait times and management practices of the hospital broke, they scaled back to host an open house Monday.

“What we needed to do was focus down on making sure that we have the best access for our veterans,” said Michael L. Kiefer, director of West Texas VA Health Care System.

But despite the smaller ceremony, veterans across West Texas stopped by on Monday to tour the new facility.

“Anything that the veterans can get, they deserve it,” said veteran Adolph Mc Knight. “I see this and it makes me feel good again.”

The new location replaces the former Odessa location and is designed to carter to patients all across the Permian Basin.

“I wasn't expecting something like this but I'm happy that it is big because now instead of having to travel all the way to Big Spring we can come down here,” said veteran Luis Velasco.

The clinic is expected to have expanded services and serve between 3,000 and 4,000 patients.

“We can expand services to include audiology, physical therapy, mental health as well as community based outpatient clinics,” Kiefer said.

In addition to the new services, the building was also constructed to be energy efficient.

“Cheaper energy, very efficient lighting, plumbing fixtures, that's a big thing here, the HVAC system, heating and air conditioning very energy efficient,” said VA energy engineer Samuel Hagins.

But despite opening on Tuesday, the clinic remains to be understaffed.

“The veteran demand really calls for three providers, right now we only have two providers on staff and so we're a little short and that's why we're making up for that shortage with Tula Health right now,” Kiefer said.

But despite the problems a number of veterans gave the new clinic a positive review.

“I just made one round and I think it's fantastic,” said veteran Luther Skinner.

“I think it's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen,” said veteran Jacob James Perez.

“Oh, this is going to get nothing but better,” said veteran D.M. Rundell.

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