Nearly 150 Veterans and their families joined VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System on April 12 for the grand opening and dedication of the relocated Belmont County outpatient clinic.
The Belmont County VA Outpatient Clinic in March 2019 moved to a larger, more modern space two miles away from its previous location, but remains in St. Clairsville, Ohio. Now in the Ohio Valley Mall at 67800 Mall Ring Road, near Sears, the 16,000-square-foot clinic:
- Is nearly twice as large as the former clinic
- Offers four times as much space for virtual care appointments for mental health and other specialty care
- Adds hearing tests and hearing aid maintenance and repair and some dermatology services
- Provides all the same services available at the former location including primary, preventive, women's and mental health care; dietary, laboratory and imaging services; prescription drug benefits; and social work
- Has ample parking, more handicapped spaces and is located along a public transit bus route
More than 5,100 Veterans receive care annually at the Belmont County outpatient clinic, and VA Pittsburgh expects that number to grow. Veterans and their families who toured the new space during the grand opening gave it high marks.
"They needed the space," said Army Veteran Glen E. Burkhead Jr. as he and his son, Glen E. Burkhead III, both of Barnesville, Ohio, toured the clinic. "There is a lot more room here. You almost need a road map to get through here."
Dr. Ali Sonel, VA Pittsburgh's chief of staff, said the state-of-the-art outpatient clinic reflects VA's commitment to ensuring Veterans receive the highest quality health care available at locations convenient to them.
"VA provides Veterans with exceptional care close to home at outpatient clinics located in the heart of America, small cities and communities like St. Clairsville," Sonel said. "Veterans earned and deserve convenient access to VA health care – ranging from advanced therapies for health needs unique to war Veterans to world-class primary and more routine care. We are maximizing virtual care capabilities and capacity, and we aim to remain Veterans' provider of choice."
U.S. Rep Bill Johnson of Ohio, a 26-year Air Force Veteran, delivered the keynote address during the dedication ceremony.
"We live in the best nation on the planet, and the reason that we live in the best nation on the planet is the men and women who served in uniform," Johnson said. "I am just humbled every time I stand in the presence of our military veterans. The people who work at these local clinics are committed to their jobs, and they're committed to doing the very best that they can do for our Veterans."
Johnson joined Sonel and Christina Hood, clinic operations director, Dr. Scott Carlos, clinic medical director, Darlene Harrington, Valor Healthcare senior operations director, and Charles R. Thilges, VISN 4 deputy network director, for the ribbon cutting. Veterans were then invited to tour the clinic and talk with staff.
The clinic's innovative layout is designed to support VA's Veteran-centered model of care, Patient Aligned Care Teams (PACTs). Each individualized PACT puts Veterans at the center of their health care and includes a provider, nurses, social workers, pharmacists, dietitians and other clinicians, as necessary. The team-based health care model supports VA's holistic approach that encompasses the whole person and promotes healthy habits to prevent disease.
"We are now fully implementing the PACT model, where the Veteran is the center of their care team," said Valor's Harrington. Valor operates the Belmont clinic and VA Pittsburgh's outpatient clinics in Beaver, Washington and Westmoreland counties in Pennsylvania.
To fully accommodate PACTs, the Belmont clinic's private exam rooms surround a separate clinical area where staff communicate and collaborate with one another. The overall layout enhances privacy and safety and simplifies navigation through the clinic.
Janet Dettra, telehealth coordinator, said the new clinic expanded the number of rooms dedicated solely to telehealth encounters from one to four. A multipurpose room is also available, if needed.
"The more room we have, the more quality time we can provide to Veterans with their providers," said Dettra. "That makes Veterans very happy, and if we can send them out with a smile, it's all worth it."
Telehealth provides patients with access to virtual doctors' office visits with physicians, nurse practitioners, psychiatrists and various other specialists.
Harrington invited Veterans who missed the grand opening to visit the clinic anytime during business hours for more information.
"We are more than happy to give them a tour and help them," Harrington said.
The clinic even has a Belmont County Veterans service officer on site four days a week to help Veterans with enrollment and claims, Harrington said.
The Belmont clinic is open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and closed on weekends. The phone number is the same as at the previous site: 740-695-9321.