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New $40M VA clinic in Indiana to open in fall 2021

By ALEX MODESITT | The Tribune-Star | Published: October 16, 2020

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (Tribune News Service) — By this time next year, Veteran Health Indiana plans to open the $40 million, more than 45,000-square-foot veteran's health clinic now under construction on Terre Haute's east side.

The clinic is an effort to expand services for those enrolled in Veterans Affairs health care and bring together its primary care and mental health offerings in the Wabash Valley — which currently operate out of separate spaces in Terre Haute.

The veterans the clinic aims to serve were invited Wednesday for a "topping out" ceremony. The vets were given an update on the project timeline and had an opportunity to sign one of the steel beams installed on the project.

Gary Mosteller, who served in the U.S. Army's Eighth Infantry Division as a truck driver between 1966 and '68, was one of those veterans who turned out for the event.

He said having a clinic in Terre Haute that can offer more comprehensive services — and not having to drive to the medical center in Indianapolis or any of the other Indiana clinics outfitted with specialty services — is a boon for Wabash Valley veterans.

"Veterans, we take the short end of the straw a lot of the time it seems like," Mosteller said. "And if you ask me we should be taken care of better than what we have been.

"... I think a place like this will help us get a better hold on things."

Mosteller said he once tried to get an optometry appointment at the Richard L. Roudebush Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Indianapolis but was told his appointment wouldn't be for several months.

"So now instead of having to drive to Indy, they sent me to Shelbyville for an eye exam and new glasses," Mosteller said, illustrating the frustration VHI is hoping to alleviate with the new clinic.

The facility will feature basic imaging, physical therapy, optometry, telehealth, audiology, home-based care, will host an on-site pharmacy and other support services.

John Holt, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who worked as a mechanic on McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II jets during his 1967 to '71 enlistment, said he'll be more than grateful when he no longer has to commute for services beyond basic primary care.

"I'm excited about it, I really am," Holt said after signing the steel beam. The beam was later lifted and bolted into place.

"This is the best thing since people started recognizing the sacrifices of Vietnam vets."

The project has been years in the making, kicking off in earnest in early 2017. Congress approved funding for the Terre Haute facility, along with a host of others, later that year.

It was then a process of soliciting bids and getting approval from the various government entities involved in a project of this scale.

Hokanson Companies Inc., an investment and corporate real estate developer, was chosen to lead the project.

Laura Ruzick, executive director of Roudebush VAMC, said Wabash Valley veterans deserve the best care available and that the Terre Haute facility will deliver on that promise once open in fall 2021.

"Days like this one are really why I love my job so much," Ruzick said.

"... Our team of dedicated healthcare professionals is proud to serve those who served our nation. We are excited about the permanency of this new clinic in Terre Haute, and we look forward to fulfilling our mission to veterans in west central Indiana."

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