$2.9 million Decatur VA clinic celebrates opening on city's west side

By TOM LISI | The Herald & Review (Tribune News Service) | Published: June 15, 2018

DECATUR, Ill. — Dozens of area veterans and their family members Thursday toured the new $2.9 million VA outpatient clinic on the city's west side, where more space is meant to allow for a holistic approach to veterans' health care.

The new 20,000 square-foot outpatient facility at 792 N. Sunnyside Rd. almost doubles the space taken up by the former site on East Mound Road.

“The other facility was rather small,” said Todd Oliver, spokesman for VA Illiana Health Care System, of which Decatur is a part. “We look towards health care around a patient-aligned care team and we were just out of space.”

The local clinic offers primary care, optometry and mental health services, while veterans in need of more specialized services would visit the VA hospital in Danville.

Limited space at the previous site meant that patients would see different healthcare staff separately, according to Diana Carranza, associate director of VA Illiana Healthcare System, a branch of the VA system that covers Central Illinois and Eastern Indiana.

The new location offers separate pods in a central area, accessible to the entire clinic staff, preventing the patients from having to be shuttled from one room to another to receive various treatments.

"It's not just about the doctor, or the nurse, or the clerk — it's also about the social worker, the pharmacist, the dietician ... in this environment we have a whole team of people working together on behalf of that veteran," Carranza said.

James Qualls, a U.S. Army veteran, and his wife Carol Sue were among those who attended Thursday to get a peek at the new facility.

"With the VA here in Decatur, and (having access) to prescription drugs, it's just been great for me," said Qualls, who served in Korea's demilitarized zone.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony also included the unveiling of a new Blue Star Memorial Highway marker, which stands next to the new VA facility.

The marker is the work of the Garden Club of Decatur, which has partnered with the clinic to beautify and maintain the surrounding area.

"It's really great, I'm really proud," Qualls said. "It's a symbol of everybody's appreciation of the Armed Forces."

To reach the new clinic from Decatur, take U.S. 36 west to Sunnyside Road and turn left. The clinic is on the left. City bus route 52 provides public transportation to the site.

The clinic's phone number is the same as before: (217) 362-5442.

The VA Illiana Health Care System, of which Decatur is a part, provides services for more than 150,000 veterans living in the 34-county areas of Illinois and Indiana.

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