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New outpatient clinic for basic care to open for veterans

| Sunday, Aug. 26, 2001

More than 30,000 local veterans will soon be spared a drive to Pittsburgh for checkups or prescriptions.

A new community-based outpatient clinic will open Tuesday at 997 N. Main St. in Washington. Previously, veterans in need of primary care had to drive to clinics in Hopewell, Beaver County, or Greensburg, or the main hospital in Oakland.

'A lot of the veterans would have a hard time making the trip,' said Dave Tomayko, spokesman for Veterans Affairs, which will oversee operation of the clinic.

Lew Irwin, a Peters Township resident and West Point graduate, pointed out that the drive would be made even more difficult for some next year, when part of the Fort Pitt Bridge and Tunnel are to close for repairs.

However, with the opening of the new clinic, veterans can receive basic care in Washington.

'The only time they'll go into Pittsburgh is for serious medical issues,' said George Krcelich, director of operations for the Washington County Department of Human Services.

Krcelich noted that the clinic was scheduled to open last week, but phone service wasn't available in time.

The clinic will have a temporary home in the Chapman Building in downtown Washington. A new building is planned for the clinic, and the groundbreaking for the new building could occur within two or three months, Irwin said.

Irwin was one of the members of the veterans' task force that assisted the VA in finding and satisfying the needs of local veterans. Members of local Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion groups worked on the project.

Dick Lescott of Peters Township also was a member. An Air Force veteran, Lescott said the idea of the clinic is to bring primary care to veterans, many of whom are elderly.

The clinic will be open five days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Appointments are necessary. There will be a doctor, two nurses, a receptionist, an enrollment clerk, a transcriber and an office manager, who will also be a nurse. For details, call the clinic at (724) 250-7790.

Vince Guerrieri can be reached at vguerrieri@tribweb.com or (412) 306-4533.

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