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Veterans Affairs and UMass Chan celebrate ribbon cutting of new community outpatient clinic

The VA Central Western Massachusetts Healthcare System and UMass Chan Medical School hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday, Nov. 8, to celebrate the opening of a new 48,000-square-foot community-based outpatient clinic for veterans located on the Medical School’s campus in Worcester.

The clinic will provide veterans with access to primary and specialty health care in a new space designed for patient-aligned care teams. It augments services provided at the VA’s Plantation Street clinic and folds in services that had been provided at Lincoln Street and Lake Avenue clinics. The new site is equipped to serve 16,800 enrolled veterans in Worcester County and will open to its first patients Dec. 15.

U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough traveled from Washington, D.C., to celebrate the opening of the new clinic. He was joined by UMass Chan Medical School Chancellor Michael F. Collins, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Rep. Jim McGovern, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Massachusetts VA Secretary Cheryl Lussier Poppe, regional VA Healthcare leaders Ryan Lilly and Duane Gill, and Kristin Mattocks, PhD, MPH, professor of population & quantitative health sciences and associate dean for veterans affairs, along with state lawmakers, city leaders, local veterans and distinguished guests.

“President Biden often says that our most sacred obligation is to prepare and equip the troops we send into harm’s way, and to care for them and their families when they return home,” said VA Secretary McDonough. “Opening this extraordinary new facility helps us do just that. It is the most recent improvement in the long evolution of the way in which we care for veterans.”

The new VA outpatient clinic will support a growing population of veterans in the region and support training of physicians and nurses at UMass Chan. The new clinic includes 65 exam, consultation and procedure rooms and brings together under one roof primary care and mental health providers along with specialists. Veterans will have access to a pharmacy and specialty care including radiology, echocardiology, and physical and occupational therapy.

According to McDonough, the clinic is intended to provide 90 percent of veterans’ day-to-day health care needs.

“During a week when Americans are encouraged to remember, recognize and reflect on the profoundly important contributions of generations of women and men who answered their nation’s call to service, it is entirely fitting that we come together to bear witness to this milestone achievement—the completion of a best-in-class VA outpatient clinic,” said Chancellor Collins.

He said, “On this day, UMass Chan Medical School makes an unambiguous statement about our unyielding commitment to care for and about our nation’s veterans.”

“The impact of VA training experiences on our residents and students is essential for us, and for the future of veterans’ health care as well,” said Executive Deputy Chancellor Terence R. Flotte. “Learners who train in VA health care facilities are more likely to care for veterans in their future clinical practice. And of course, the veterans benefit as well from increased access.”

“This clinic is specifically designed to provide personalized care by pairing veterans with patient-aligned care teams, which focus on wellness and disease prevention, and are proven to improve health care outcomes and increase veterans’ satisfaction. This is a big deal,” said Rep. McGovern.

“And for years veterans in my district and VA officials alike have told me that one of the biggest obstacles for the VA is the lack of medical professionals with expertise in the unique challenges facing the veteran population, especially women. This clinic and the partnership between VA Central Western Mass and UMass Chan Medical School is what it looks like when we begin to address that problem,” he said.

“I believe in beautiful public spaces. I think they say in a very, very big way, the people who come here matter to us,” Sen. Warren said. “So being here today, with you to engage in a ceremony to say we're going to open this beautiful space to provide care for our veterans is a way that as a people, as a nation, we honor those who have served us so long and so well.”

Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito praised the new facility as improving care for veterans locally, without having to travel to Boston. She said, “The other piece of this that is so very special is the fact that this is a public medical school . . . and that the students who come here are mission driven to serve, always finding a way to give back and to make health care better for everyone.”

Development of the clinic is the result of multiyear efforts by the VA, UMass Chan, and legislative and civic leaders, particularly Rep. McGovern; as well as bipartisan support from the administrations of Gov. Charlie Baker and former Gov. Deval Patrick; and numerous officials in the Massachusetts Legislature.

The building has been designed to meet LEED and Green Globes certification for energy efficiency and sustainable operation.

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