LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — The Department of Veteran Affairs is preparing to open the doors on a new VA outpatient clinic on the east side of Lafayette.
Veteran Health Indiana hosted a ribbon cutting Tuesday at the new location in anticipation of the Sept. 13 opening date.
For nearly 15 years, the local VA clinic has offered outpatient care at the Indiana Veterans' Home in West Lafayette.
But officials said during the event Tuesday that the clinic is outgrowing its space. They say the new location can serve more veterans and offer more specialized services, saving them trips to facilities in Indianapolis or outside the VA network.
"We had really had outgrown the space," says Laura Ruzick, director of Veteran Health Indiana, which manages VA clinics across the state.
The 21,000-square-foot facility at 940 Park East Boulevard in Lafayette is about five times larger than the old one at the Veterans' Home.
"The needs of the veterans, requiring more specialty services, particularly things like optometry and audiology really weren't able to be accomplished within the space that we had," Ruzick says.
Veterans in the past had to drive to Indianapolis or shop outside the VA network for those services and many others, including physical therapy.
"But I think you'll find that most of our veterans prefer to keep their care within the VA," Ruzick says.
The eastside location means longer trips for Veterans' Home residents, says Joy Grow, superintendent of the long-term care facility.
"I'm happy that we were able to provide that space," she says. "I think it was convenient certainly for our veterans but I think there was limits to it ... and I'm always going to be supportive of a move that's going to be able to serve more veterans."
Six-thousand more veterans to be exact, Ruzick says.
"And that's double, double what we were serving so that is the greatest advantage," she says.
The next step is getting the word out to veterans in the community, says Dennis Wimer, director of the Indiana Department of Veteran Affairs.
"This building provides new opportunities; opportunities that we didn't have at the Veterans' Home; opportunities for more services, for more specialties," he says.
The clinic is slated to open Sept. 13 at 940 Park East Blvd. It will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.