“This is a major victory for North Olympic Veterans who have been waiting for a new clinic that has sufficient space, staff and hours to meet their health care needs,” said Senator Murray. “I made clear to Secretary Shinseki that this was a top priority and I’m pleased the Administration has responded with the investment that the community needs.”
In August 2010, Senator Murray raised the issue of expanding care to the Upper Peninsula’s 14,000 veterans in a letter to VA Secretary, Eric Shinseki. In that letter Murray noted that:
“Forcing any veteran, especially our elderly ones, to drive long distances for basic care is unacceptable. Local veterans should not have to commute to Bremerton for a full service CBOC or even further to the Seattle and American Lake campuses. They deserve to get the care they need close to where they live.”
Then in December of last year, Senator Murray again reached out to Shinseki asking that this investment be made in the Fiscal Year 2013 budget:
Finally, Murray followed that letter up with a face-to-face discussion with VA Undersecretary for Health, Dr. Robert Petzel, in which she discussed the importance of a new facility for the growing veterans population in the area.
Since its establishment in 2008, the Port Angeles outreach clinic has served more than 14,000 veterans living on the North Olympic Peninsula. As a result of the strong growth in this rural area, the Port Angeles outreach clinic has already exceeded maximum physical capacity and can neither expand services nor accommodate additional personnel.
The need for care is expected to grow, with a 20 percent increase in enrollment projected over the next 10 years. Currently, the clinic occupies approximately 1,500 net usable square feet in a building owned by the Olympic Medical Center. A new CBOC would provide primary care and mental health services in a much larger space five days a week.