Mental health clinic for veterans to open in Branson

Tuesday, August 12, 2008 | 6:46 p.m. CDT; updated 7:10 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, August 12, 2008

BRANSON - A new Veterans Affairs mental health clinic opening next month in Branson will give veterans in southwest Missouri better access to important health care, Sen. Kit Bond said.

The clinic will open by the end of September and serve 900 existing patients and 3,900 new patients.

The Branson clinic will save patients from traveling to Mount Vernon or Fayetteville, Ark., to see a Veterans Affairs doctor.

"This new clinic will bring veterans in southwest Missouri the quality care they need closer to home," Bond said in a written statement on Monday. "It is critical that we provide for the patriots who served our nation and clinics like this one will help those veterans in underserved, rural areas receive prompt medical care."

The clinic, one of 38 new VA clinics announced in May 2007, initially will house two primary care teams and mental health services. It will provide comprehensive primary care, health promotion maintenance, routine/urgent care procedures and education.

The Mental Health Services will include a variety of outpatient mental health services such as medication management, substance abuse treatment, individual and group counseling, and assessment, evaluation and therapy.

Routine specialty care consults, laboratory and X-rays will typically be referred to the parent facility in Fayetteville, Ark.

A combination of VA and contract services will provide all routine medications. Audiology, optometry, home-based primary care, pharmacy, laboratory, radiology and additional services will be available in the future as the facility expands.

"It's going to start with 2,400-square feet and two doctors," said Dan Wadlington, a spokesman for Blunt. "They hope to expand this substantially."

The two starting doctors are Lawrence E. Allen and Donald M. Lippert, who both are physicians in the Mount Vernon area.

"This is welcomed news for the deserving veterans of southwest Missouri," Blunt said. "This facility will provide the quality of care they deserve. I'm glad the VA saw the same need that Senator Bond and I did. With record high gas prices our veterans deserve health care facilities in their own communities."



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