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VA opens new outpatient clinic in Portsmouth for primary care, mental health

The expansion will save many vets from having to travel to the Peninsula, and will help reduce the workload at Hampton Medical Center.

PORTSMOUTH, Va. — It's an important breakthrough for military veterans in Hampton Roads. Many who live on the Southside will no longer have to travel to Hampton to get routine medical and mental health care.

A long-awaited and much-needed expansion for the Hampton Veterans Affairs Medical Center comes to Portsmouth, cutting the commute time for thousands of vets.

They cut the ribbon Thursday on the new Department of Veterans Affairs Portsmouth Community Based Outpatient Clinic. Located on the third and fourth floors of the Wells Faro Building on Crawford Parkway downtown, the clinic will offer 11,000 square feet of medical space.

"We are very excited to open this clinic today," said DeAnne Seekins, Director of the Department of Veterans Affairs Mid-Atlantic Health Care Network, Veterans Integrated Service Network. "We're going to provide services to 3,000 additional primary care patients, 2,000 additional mental health patients, and their commutes... they're not going to have to go through the tunnels, over the bridges. They can come close to home, and we will ensure they get the care they need."

There will also be the additional benefit of relieving patient traffic at the Hampton VA Medical Center which, at one point in 2010, had the worst in the nation waiting time for primary care of 108 days. It's now down to 24 days.

"As you all may know, Hampton is growing by leaps and bounds," said Dr. Taquisa Simmons, Associate Director for Operations. "And this facility will put us in an improved position to serve our veterans."

Thirty-year Navy veteran Keith Camper is excited.

"It takes care of my brothers and sister in arms," he said. "They ain't got to come that far and travel all the way to Hampton, which in some cases, for some people is a problem, because of traffic, and they were late for appointments. So this is great."

This is the VA's fourth clinic expansion in Hampton Roads this year, following others in Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, and Peninsula Town Center.