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VA hospital director vows more services in rural Georgia

Brunswick News - 1/18/2020

Jan. 18--David Whitmer, director of the Carl Vinson VA Medical Center in Dublin, returned to Brunswick for the second time in six months to update veterans on some of the new initiatives and changes offered.

He started the meeting by explaining some of the new staff members hired to improve veteran services. The new hires include a chief of staff, nurse executive, whole health director, supervisory cardiologist and a chief of mental health.

The changes since Whitmer took over at the clinic have raised the VA hospital's rating from a one star to three stars.

One of the biggest changes planned in Brunswick is a new, free-standing 12,500-square-foot VA clinic near Interstate 95 at a yet to be determined location. Whitmer said a contract to build the clinic will be awarded later this year with the goal of opening the new, expanded facility by Christmas 2021.

"The new services will give the clinic flexibility on what to add," he said.

The new clinic's design will be similar to one in Tifton that was recently built.

Other clinics in the region will also see renovations and improvements, he said.

Among the new services are a cardiologist who will visit clinics for appointments, rather than have the veterans travel to Dublin or Atlanta for consultations or treatments.

"This allows you to get world-class cardiology services," Whitmer said.

And a virtual claims clinic will enable veterans to personally access medical advice through teleconferencing.

"We want to create an environment where you choose the VA," Whitmer said. "We will become a highly reliable organization by focusing on access, customer service, employee engagement, outreach and whole health."

Staff if being retrained to provide the best medical services possible, he said.

"We've got to make sure we sign up more veterans for health care," he said.

Whitmer said the hospital has applied for a grant for a clinic on wheels.

"Think about a VA that comes to you," he said. "We have to figure out how to deliver health care to rural areas."

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