On April 13, 2021, the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center opened their new Myrtle Beach VA Outpatient Clinic located at 1800 Airpark Drive.
The new 84,000 square foot clinic boasts 200 clinical treatment rooms and is a much-needed increase in size to provide the primary care, mental health and specialty services Grand Strand Veterans need. The VA has been caring for Veterans in the Myrtle Beach area for nearly 20 years at the two previous clinic locations on Phillis Boulevard and Johnson Avenue.
“This new clinic isn’t just a building or place we provide health care; we truly view this clinic as a tribute to our Veterans – the heroes that served,” said Ralph H. Johnson Director and CEO Scott Isaacks. “It’s a reminder for everyone that walks through the doors and everyone that drives by that our Veterans gave their best and deserve nothing but the best. It’s a reminder that we honor our Veterans’ service to this country, and we’ve tailored this clinic to meet their specific needs.”
The clinic has been long anticipated and greatly needed in Horry County—a community filled with more than 27,000 Veterans—many of whom already benefit from the outstanding quality medical care provided by the Ralph H. Johnson VA system. Staff welcomed Veteran patients into the clinic on their first day of patient care, eager to show off the state-of-the-art building and share how the bigger clinic would better meet the needs of Veterans in the area.
“We opened this clinic with 12 primary care teams, but we have built-in a flexibility to expand to 20 teams,” said Isaacks. “In a Veteran community that is growing as rapidly as Myrtle Beach, it was important to us to build a clinic that not only meets the current need, but that is also able to accommodate for future growth.”
With the ample space at the new Myrtle Beach VA Outpatient Clinic they are able to offer Veterans the following specialty care services: mental health, tele-mental health, tele-health, dermatology, urology, podiatry, cardiology, pulmonary, physical therapy, optometry, audiology, compensation & pension, blood collection, an optical shop and radiology, including general, CT, ultrasound and bone density. Additionally, and for the first-time, occupational therapy, prosthetics and MRI are being added to the list of services out of a need to increase access to these services for Veterans closer to where they live.
Clinical leadership eagerly shared that one of their main goals when building this clinic was to further reduce the need for Veterans to have to travel to the main medical center in Charleston. The expansion of services increases care convenience for Veterans, accommodating their clinical outpatient needs and expediting services. For example, the five-person prosthetics team can do everything from evaluations for special mobility equipment to shoe fittings and ordering of special equipment—this means Veterans don’t have to travel to Charleston to be measured and evaluated. Veterans are also able to get off-the-shelf items like blood pressure monitors, compressions socks, and knee and back braces immediately after seeing their physician, so Veterans do not have to wait for these items to come in the mail. As an extra measure of convenience, a prosthetics representative is on hand every day to help answer Veteran questions.
The increase in space also allowed for a larger physical therapy clinic – quadrupling the size of the previous location on Johnson Ave. They brought in all new equipment and doubled the amount of equipment in the physical therapy space. With the additional space, they’ve been able to add more physical therapists, as well as occupational therapy services. The new staff and larger clinic will help bring some programs like wheelchair clinic and the MOVE! Weight Management Program from Charleston to Myrtle Beach.
Due to COVID-19 precautions, the Ralph H. Johnson VAMC was not able to host a large, public grand opening event. In lieu of a big ceremony, they released a virtual grand opening video that includes a virtual tour of the new clinic and remarks for Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune, Congressman Tom Rice and Scott Isaacks.
“It was a difficult decision to not hold a big grand opening ceremony because we know how much this clinic means to the Veterans and community in Myrtle Beach,” said Isaacks. “However, the safety of our Veterans, staff and their families are our number one priority, and we are taking all the necessary steps to keep everyone healthy.”
The Ralph H. Johnson VAMC is looking forward to the opening of their next large clinic – the North Charleston VA Outpatient Clinic. The 74,000 square foot clinic located at 6450 Rivers Avenue is set to open in June 2021 to serve the Veterans in and around the Charleston area with a focus on primary care and dental services.