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New Oconomowoc VA outpatient clinic opens doors to first patients

First Veteran to be seen at the Oconomowoc VA Clinic.
William Lorenz, a Marine Corps, Navy Reserve, and Air Force Reserve Veteran who served more than 29 combined years in the military, is the first Veteran to be seen at the Oconomowoc VA Clinic on June 24, 2024.

The Milwaukee VA Health Care System’s new outpatient clinic in Oconomowoc conducted its first medical appointments Monday, making health care more accessible for thousands of Veterans in Waukesha, Dodge, Washington, and Jefferson Counties and the Lake Country region west of Milwaukee.

William Lorenz, a Marine Corps, Navy Reserve, and Air Force Reserve Veteran who served more than 29 combined years in the military, was the first Veteran to be seen when the clinic opened.

“It’s convenient,” Lorenz said. “It really is. When they called and asked if I’d be interested in transferring, I said ‘yeah. Put me down for it.’ I didn’t realize I was going to be the first patient.”

Lorenz lives near Lake Five near Richfield, Wisconsin, and has been receiving care at the Milwaukee VA Medical Center for 16 years. In that time, he said he has had exceptional care at the VA, and today’s appointment wasn’t any different.

“The staff was very nice,” Lorenz said. “That’s one thing I’ve noticed about the VA. I have a regular doctor, too, who kind of treats my diabetes, and they treat symptoms. I think that the VA is more interested in looking at what can we do to prevent possible medical things or symptoms. I think they’re very comprehensive in what they do.”

Peter Wilson, a Marine Corps Veteran from Merton, Wisconsin, echoed that sentiment, stating that he’s had medical procedures done at the Milwaukee VA Medical Center based on test results from his primary care appointments. Wilson also opted to transfer his care to the Oconomowoc VA outpatient clinic.

“It looks like you have a very enthusiastic staff here, and I would say overall, the VA medical people have just been wonderful, in all the years I've seen that,” Wilson said.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held March 8 for the new 8,500-square-foot facility at 1289 Olympia Fields Drive. In the months that followed, work was done behind the scenes to furnish the building, stock supplies, hire and onboard staff, and ensure the appropriate systems were in place to enroll and serve Veterans at the clinic.

While completing final checks throughout the clinic, Micaela Hughes, the program manager for the Oconomowoc VA outpatient clinic, interacted with multiple Veterans excitedly awaiting the clinic’s opening to Veterans.

“This clinic being here is wonderful, just because it gives these Veterans high-quality access to care closer to home, so they're not having to drive further to get the care and their needs met,” Hughes said.

Dr. Avery Hayes, the lead physician at the Oconomowoc VA clinic, said he is very excited to offer Veterans in the area the chance to receive their primary care closer to their home. He has been a physician with the Milwaukee VA Medical Center since 2001 and is currently transitioning to the Oconomowoc clinic. He said he enjoys serving Veterans.

“My uncle was a Vietnam Veteran, and my grandfather was a Veteran in the Army, so I feel that this is kind of my way to give back to a population that sacrificed for our country,” Hayes said.

Katie Wisniewski, the Milwaukee VA’s women Veteran program manager, has been assisting with setting up and preparing the Oconomowoc VA Outpatient Clinic since December.

“It was nice to walk into the door and see that patients were here and excited to be seen,” Wisniewski said. “I think it was long overdue to get a VA clinic out in the Lake Country area to provide services for Veterans.”

Wisniewski is excited that three of the four physicians at the Oconomowoc VA Clinic will be designated Women’s Health providers by fiscal year 2025.

“We will have a very large abundance to schedule those Veterans at the clinic,” Wisniewski said. “Sometimes that’s challenging because it’s such specialized care, but we will be one of the few community-based outpatient clinics to have almost all of the providers Women’s Health trained.”

In addition to Women’s Health services, the Oconomowoc VA Outpatient Clinic offers primary care, mental health, and telehealth services. There is also a full-service lab, a social worker, and a dietician available for Veterans’ needs.

Veterans interested in transferring their care to the Oconomowoc VA clinic who are already enrolled in the Milwaukee VA Health Care System can talk to their primary care provider to put in a consult for a transfer. Veterans can also call 414-384-2000, ext. 44255, and leave a message stating they would like to transfer.

For more information on the Oconomowoc VA Outpatient Clinic, check out the website at https://www.va.gov/milwaukee-health-care/locations/oconomowoc-va-clinic