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Two North Country Veterans' Clinics Set to Close

Veterans Administration

The Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in White River Junction, Vt. has scheduled two town hall meetings next week in New Hampshire’s North Country to discuss the closing of facilities in Colebrook and Berlin that offer primary care and lab services to veterans.
The VA clinic at Indian Stream Health Center in Colebrook and the mobile clinic in Berlin are set to shut down in February. The two locations, which are only open part-time, provide care for about 180 veterans.

If they are closed, veterans may have to visit the VA clinic in Littleton for services. They may also end up on Veterans Choice, a program that lets vets see doctors at private hospitals on the VA’s dime.

Veterans Choice has been plagued with bureaucratic problems, such as delayed payments to doctors, though the VA says progress has been made to fix them.

Chief Executive Officer of Indian Stream Health Center Jonathan Brown says there is room at Indian Stream to accept more Veterans Choice patients.

Credit Peter Biello / NHPR
The Berlin Vet Center in Gorham is one location where VA nurses would be sent under a new plan to be discussed at two North County town hall meetings on Dec. 12.

Vets may also get care from VA nurses sent to locations Coös County (such as the Berlin Vet Center in Gorham) from the VA Medical Center in White River Junction.

White River Junction VA Medical Center Director Al Montoya says this change will give veterans local access to care five days a week.

"What would happen under this model is, say, if a veteran were to come into Indian Stream or the Coös Family Health Center and wanted to be seen, our case manager would be there and would be able to help them, assist them through the process to make sure they got care," Montoya says.

Both North Country town hall meetings take place on Monday, December 12th. The first is at the Berlin Town Hall at 10 a.m. and the second is at the Colebrook Town Clerk’s office at 1:30 p.m. 

Peter Biello is the host of All Things Considered and Writers on a New England Stage at New Hampshire Public Radio. He has served as a producer/announcer/host of Weekend Edition Saturday at Vermont Public Radio and as a reporter/host of Morning Edition at WHQR in Wilmington, North Carolina.

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