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Local VA clinic growing, serving younger veterans

Thousands helped annually

T-R PHOTO By MIKE DONAHEY - Maureen Nichols, director of the Veterans Administration’s Clinic in Marshalltown, prepares to demonstrate a Telehealth, or virtual technology monitor in the facility recently. Nichols said Telehealth connects a health care professional with a veteran in the clinic.

More and more Central Iowa veterans are taking advantage of the many services available at the local Veterans Administration Clinic.

“We serve 1,900 to 2,100 veterans annually,” Maureen Nichols, director of the VA’s Community Based Outreach Clinics in Carroll, Knoxville and Marshalltown said. “We are growing, and have our ups and downs, but are now serving many more younger veterans.”

The clinic opened in 2013 at its present address, 101 Iowa Ave. W.

A staff of approximately 23 offers services ranging from mental health counseling to optometry to podiatry in a modern, state-of-the art building.

Nichols, a 30-year VA veteran, was at the clinic recently to meet with Gail Graham, director of the VA’s Central Iowa Health Care Systems which oversees all CBOC’s.

Other clinics are in Fort Dodge and Mason City.

“Marshalltown and Carroll started within a month of each other,” Nichols said. “And Marshalltown has grown quicker.”

Graham, a Des Moines native who is also a 30-year VA veteran, was at the clinic to discuss agency issues with Nichols, veterans and the public.

Graham said she was thrilled to talk to them about Telehealth — or virtual reality monitor — as its use is significantly increasing in Marshalltown. It saves veterans and staff time from having to travel to other facilities Des Moines, Iowa City, and elsewhere.

“We do a lot of Telehealth from the Marshalltown clinic and the Iowa Veterans Home,” said Graham, a Des Moines native who is also based out of the capital city. “If there is a speciality we do not have here, we can get it from Iowa City and the main campus.”

The VA announced last month it has expanded Telehealth applications by allowing health care providers to treat patients across state lines or outside a VA facility.

For example, Nichols said veterans in Marshalltown have used Telehealth to receive services from out-of-state medical professionals.

“We are able to do a lot of tele-retnal exams here,” Nichols said. ‘We have several people trained.”

Telehealth is also used between Iowa clinics.

A VA social worker in Carroll was able to assist a Marshalltown veteran recently.

“We want to get the word out to veterans that the clinics are for their use,” Graham said. “This clinic and others is a benefit they have earned.”

The Marshalltown clinic is open from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Contact them at 877-424-4404 or 641-753-1375.

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Contact Mike Donahey at 641-753-6611 or mdonahey@timesrepublican.com

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