For most veterans accustomed to hiking six miles in combat boots with a full pack while carrying a weapon, a hike across the Kenai Spur Highway is no big deal. For the Veterans Administration medics, however, it is a big deal.
From Wednesday afternoon through Friday afternoon, medical staff at the VA Outpatient Clinic in the Benco Building on Frontage Road in Kenai will be moving lock, stock and barrel across the highway to the Carr-Gottstein Mall where a new clinic will open at 7:30 a.m. Oct. 30 next to the Sears store.
During the move, the Kenai clinic will be closed, and veterans with medication concerns or same-day problems are being referred to the Anchorage VA Clinic at 888-353-7574, extension 4710.
“I’m really excited about the move,” said Karen Dudding, Kenai clinic manager, on Monday. “We’re going to be able to serve more veterans with increased space in a brand new facility built to our specifications.
“We’ve outgrown the present space,” she said.
The clinic will be expanding from 3,400 square feet to 4,800 square feet, with more exam rooms, a larger lab and facilities for specialized care such as podiatry, audiology and women’s health.
Dudding said the clinic is recruiting for a licensed clinical social worker to be added to the staff “hopefully in late December or early January.”
“That’s a much-needed service here,” she said.
The Kenai clinic already has added an advanced registered nurse practitioner Laurie Stevenson, ARNP who is a fully independent primary care provider who has been practicing for 12 years.
Dudding said Stevenson “does everything the doctor does.” Stevenson will work with Dr. Roy Boone at the VA clinic.
The clinic is planning to celebrate the opening of the new facility with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10:30 a.m. Nov. 4. A short program and tours of the new clinic will be offered to the general public.
Dudding said regional VA dignitaries will attend and Kenai Peninsula mayors have been invited to the ceremony, which will feature one of the peninsula’s oldest World War II vets and one of the youngest, a recently returned Afghanistan veteran.
Except for this Thursday, the VA clinic is conducting flu shot clinics every Thursday this fall. Veterans need not have an appointment if they come for a flu shot during the shot clinic.
Phil Hermanek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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