Does new clinic serve Vets better? -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Does new clinic serve Vets better?

The new VA clinic aboard MCLB The new VA clinic aboard MCLB
Thomas and Launa Ellis Thomas and Launa Ellis
Lee Ferrell says he tries to avoid the clinic Lee Ferrell says he tries to avoid the clinic
ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Some veterans say moving the Albany VA clinic to the Marine Corps Logistics Base hasn't improved service.

The larger clinic opened on the base in September, but some vets say they still have long wait times just to get prescriptions refilled. Some say they choose to drive two hours to Dublin rather than seek services here because of bad experiences.

Every week, veterans meet at the American Legion for doughnuts and coffee. Many of them seek care at the VA Clinic here or at the VA hospital in Dublin. Some say despite the clinic's move, the wait time is as long as four months.

Lee Ferrell says he couldn't even get anyone to answer the phone. "I called for days and days and days so I went out there. Well unfortunately they stopped booking appointments so I had to come in next month."

Thomas Ellis has been using the VA since 2003 and says after a bad experience at the old Broad Ave location he chooses to drive to Dublin. "I thought I was having a heart attack."

He says he and his wife were told to go elsewhere even though he was experiencing chest pains. "She didn't even take my pulse or do anything. So I popped two pain tablets and she drove me to Dublin."

And that's where he's received good medical care ever since. "You get what you put in. If I go over there with an attitude and I'm going to get an attitude, and you gotta treat everyone like you want to be treated."

We spoke by telephone to a VA representative who says they will release a statement later this week, but told us they're committed to treating veterans and honoring their service.

And some changes are in the works. Just this week the department of Veterans Affairs mailed out choice cards. It's a temporary benefit that allows veterans to get care at another facility instead of waiting for an appointment from the VA.

But in the meantime, Lee Ferrell says he tries to avoid the clinic. "I stay as far away from the VA as I can."

Others were also concerned about access for ex-offenders, some whom cannot go on base,

Dr. Frank Jordan with the Dublin Clinic told us they can get care elsewhere and a very low percentage of vets have felony criminal records.

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