Work starts on Juneau VA clinic

Posted: Monday, April 05, 2010

ANCHORAGE - In an effort to better serve military veterans in Southeast Alaska, construction recently began on the Juneau Veterans Affairs Outreach Clinic, said a spokeswoman with the state VA Healthcare System.

Currently, the 7,800 veterans living in Southeast Alaska comprise 10 percent of the state's veteran population, but have no clinic to go to, said spokeswoman Marcia Hoffman-DeVoe.

Veterans can currently receive audiology services from practitioners who travel into Ketchikan and Juneau from external Coast Guard clinics, Hoffman-DeVoe said.

The $1.5 million, 3,566-square-foot clinic will be located on the first floor of the Juneau Federal Building, and will convey an atmosphere much like that of a private doctor's office, with a waiting area and nurses' offices, Hoffman-DeVoe said.

"It will be set up to provide basic medical services for primary care, as well as for mental care," she said.

The contractor with the winning bid, Anchorage-based SBH Services Inc., began construction March 15, and is required to complete the clinic within 120 days. After construction is completed, the VA will take possession of the space, furnish it and install the equipment needed to perform the services it offers.

The clinic was designed by architecture firm Jensen Yorba Lott Inc., based in Juneau.

Originally, the clinic was set to be constructed on the second floor of the building. However, when space opened up on the first floor, plans were amended because the first floor offered contiguous space. The original site would have forced the contractor to build around the offices of another agency.

In its first year of operation, the clinic will likely serve 1,000 veterans, Hoffman-DeVoe said. Some 1,800 Southeast Alaska veterans were enrolled in the Alaska VA Healthcare System in fiscal year 2009, with 500 of them actively using the VA for their healthcare needs, she said.

The clinic will be staffed by eight people, including a primary care provider, a nurse practitioner or psychiatrist, a social worker, an already-hired RN clinic manager, a licensed practical nurse, a health technician, a patient services assistant and an administrative officer, who has been in place for several years in Juneau.

The clinic will share some of its resources with the Coast Guard, including lab services and audiology. This resource sharing comes as a result of the VA and the Coast Guard being members of the Alaska Federal Health Care Partnership, a formal, voluntary, inter-agency relationship between federal agencies to provide better patient care throughout Alaska, Hoffman-DeVoe said.

The VA appropriated funding for the clinic.

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