COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Before the Downtown VA Clinic on Comer Avenue in Columbus opened up, local veterans only could turn to the clinic on 13th Street for basic healthcare.
Many soldiers were left with the task of having to travel over 100 miles round-trip for healthcare services to Tuskegee, Dothan or Atlanta.
Dr. Carlos Wise is the chief medical officer for the new Downtown VA clinic, which is operated by the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System.
“Quality is not the issue. The issue is veterans being able to access the services,” Wise said.
Wise said the Columbus community has over 20,000 veterans which is expanding daily. This is why the new clinic is crucial to bring those veterans the services they deserve.
Housing assistance, social work services, and mental health, accompanied by others like telehealth and having a laboratory inside the clinic means no more waiting days for test results and visiting subspecialists.
“They set us up an appointment then come and pick us up,” said veteran Howard Simms. “Then, they wait for us to get done and drop us back off again.”
Congressman Sanford Bishop along with the secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs chose this more centralized location after concerns were raised about locating the clinic in North Columbus along Mobley Road.
With this location in the main health district and on a bus route, all who received services say they are grateful to have this level of care.
“I like the doctors, I like the social workers, and all the support staff. I have had a very good experience,” said veteran William McGinty.
This clinic will be an addition to the 13th Street clinic, which is currently under renovation. The $64 million project is expected to be wrapped up in late 2022.