TWP of GENOA. – Military veterans in and around Livingston County in need of routine medical care or procedures will soon have a new option closer to home to obtain these services through the VA.
The VA Ann Arbor Health Care System is preparing to open a new approximately 7,100 square foot community outpatient clinic in part of an existing medical office building at 3399 E. Grand River Ave. near Howell.
Veteran Mark Kovach, commander of Livingston County Disabled American Veterans Chapter 125 and the Livingston County Veterans Council, said county veterans are excited about the new clinic.
“All these veterans I talk to and see think this is a good thing,” he said. “They won’t have to run all the way to Ann Arbor to do simple procedures and blood work. I think that’s a long time coming.”
Spokesman Brian Hayes said the clinic is scheduled to open Nov. 2 and will be similar to a community outpatient clinic that opened in 2021 in Adrian. The clinic will provide primary care, mental health, dietetics, social work, pharmacy and blood tests.
“It’s really about finding areas where we think veterans are underserved,” he said. “When we look at this, we find pockets that if we put one here, veterans may only have to drive for five minutes.”
He said he expects the new clinic to eventually serve about 5,000 veterans who live within a 30-minute radius.
“The new location was selected based on an analysis of the veteran population in the Livingston County area,” VA Ann Arbor Health System officials said in a statement. “VAAAHS staff determined that many area veterans drove more than 30 minutes for routine medical appointments.”
Livingston County Veterans Services Director Ramon Baca said the clinic was much needed.
“The (clinic) is going to be of great use, a great asset,” Baca said. “We have over 10,000 veterans in the county.”
Officials also said in the statement that Mary Durst, former director of Veterans Services for the county, “advocated strongly for a VA clinic near Howell.”
Hayes said most Livingston County veterans travel to Ann Arbor for VA services. He said some might also go to the Detroit Medical Center or clinics in other communities.
“And if you need specialized care, you can go to Ann Arbor Medical Center, but we want routine care close to home,” he said.
He said the Howell-area clinic will employ two full-time medical teams made up of doctors, nurses, and administrative and support staff.
VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System leases the facility. The interior renovations have been underway for months and they are working on finishing the renovations and getting the equipment and technology in place.
Once the clinic is open, staff will contact veterans who may want to use a clinic and see doctors closer to home.
Hayes said veterans can also decide to keep their current doctor at other facilities, if they choose.
He said the system operates eight community outpatient clinics in Michigan and Toledo, Ohio, and they see northwest Ohio as an area that could also benefit from a clinic.
“We went the longest with Jackson, Flint and Toledo,” he said. “Over the past few years, we have found that we need to open more clinics.”
County Veterans Services provides transportation to medical appointments for local veterans.
Baca said many of those trips were to health facilities outside of the county.
“We specifically take veterans to medical appointments, not just at the VA in Ann Arbor, but anywhere within a 50-mile radius,” he said.
He said they also fly veterans to appointments at VA medical centers in Lansing and Flint, as well as regional medical centers in Ann Arbor, Novi, Southfield and Chelsea.
He said the Howell area also needs specialty care services through the VA, and he hopes the Howell Clinic could add services such as physical therapy and optometry at some point in the future.
Contact Livingston Daily reporter Jennifer Eberbach at [email protected]