Twin Ports VA Clinic expandsThe largest Veterans Administration outpatient clinic in northwestern Wisconsin is going to get even bigger, starting this week. It’s gearing up to serve the growing number of veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq.
By: By Mike Simonson/Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
The largest Veterans Administration outpatient clinic in northwestern Wisconsin is going to get even bigger, starting this week. It’s gearing up to serve the growing number of veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq.
“The long-awaited, much anticipated start of the renovation at our Twin Ports Outpatient Clinic in Superior [began] Monday,” said VA Public Affairs Officer Ralph Huessner.
He says this $2.6 million yearlong project shows the commitment the VA has for the increasing number of northern Wisconsin and northern Minnesota veterans who use the Superior clinic.
“We’ve been there for 22 years. We’re proud to say it was one of the first outpatient clinics in the VA system. The contract is for five years with renewals up to 20. So, our message that we’d like to get out is: ‘The VA is here to stay’.”
In just the past year, the clinic has seen a surge of 600 veterans, more than a 10 percent increase to 5800-plus total patients.
Veteran’s activist Durbin Keeney of Duluth expects that number of new vets — mostly from Iraq and Afghanistan wars — to triple once the expansion finishes. He says it’s important that these people seek help.
“And they’re smart if they do” Keeney said. “I mean, if they’re a guard member, they’ve got five years to get in the medical system or they’re screwed. And if they don’t do that, it’s their fault.”
The renovation will mean an expansion of services for vets including diabetic, cardiology and pulmonary care. Clinics in Hayward, Rice Lake and Superior serve 18 counties in far northern Wisconsin. Huessner says there won’t be an interruption in appointments or services during the renovation, since it will be done in three phases.
Each phase will cover one of the VA Clinic’s three wings.
Wisconsin Public Radio can be heard locally on 91.3 KUWS-FM and online at www.wpr.org.