The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs opened a new outpatient clinic in Artesia on Monday. An official grand opening will be held July 3 at the new facility at 2410 W. Main St. (Mary Morgan Photo)
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has opened a new outpatient clinic in Artesia, although at least one local veteran says the VA has not notified local veterans of the clinic’s new location.
The New Mexico VA Health Care System announced there will be a grand opening of the new community based outpatient clinic in Artesia from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on July 3.
The clinic’s new location is at 2410 W. Main St. in Artesia.
It replaces the former clinic located in a strip mall at 1700 W. Main St.
The VA’s website still lists the former address of the Artesia clinic, with no mention of a relocation.
Veterans looking for the new clinic are probably having a difficult time, said U.S. Air Force veteran Mark Rowland of Roswell.
Rowland, who has a service-connected disability, said an 8-1/2-by-11-inch notice posted on the former clinic last week announced the new clinic would open June 23, but did not list the new clinic’s address.
Rowland said the new clinic is also hard to distinguish.
“Veterans are probably driving all around Artesia trying to find the new clinic’s location,” Rowland said. “I would have liked them to properly notify us. For goodness’ sake, how many veterans are driving around town wondering where the clinic is at?”
Rowland said he did not receive a notification from the VA about the Artesia clinic’s new location.
“There are people driving around I’m sure are wondering what the heck,” he said. “The VA is good about sending out notifications of upcoming appointments and things like that. Why couldn’t they have done the same thing notifying veterans of the clinic closing and the opening of the new clinic?”
Rowland, an airman from 1983 to 1989 and former A-10 Thunderbolt crew chief, said the former clinic closed June 17.
The new clinic opened Monday.
Rowland said there were no services at either location June 18-20.
He said he attended the new clinic Wednesday.
“The only way I found out about it was I had to go down there for blood work,” he said.
For veterans living in Roswell, the next closest VA outpatient clinic is in Alamogordo.
Rowland said the brand new Artesia clinic is much improved from the former clinic.
“The new facility is bigger, except for the waiting area,” he said. “The waiting area only accommodates 10, maybe 12 people, tops. But there is what they call an overflow banquet room that accommodates the same amount of people.”
Rowland said the new clinic will be appreciated by veterans, but he said overall, there need to be more improvements for veterans living in Southeast New Mexico.
“It’s a lot nicer, a lot bigger and it’s newer,” Rowland said. “The clinic is going to be a good thing. The other thing that’s really nice, a nice feature that they added, they have two spots in the waiting room where you can connect with va.gov and update your My Healthy Vet profile or check it while you’re waiting for services. That’s something that has never been available.
“The one thing that they are still lacking, they still don’t have any psychiatric services available other than telemedicine, with no plans for professional consultations in the clinic. With the number of PTSD and other veterans that are having a crisis or near crisis, they need to have someone they can talk to face to face. I know they have a social worker there, but that kind of stuff is above and beyond what the average social worker can handle.”
Rowland said he has attended VA clinics and hospitals in Louisiana, Arizona and Kansas before moving to New Mexico.
“New Mexico is beyond the shadow the worst,” he said. “Admin people aren’t vet-friendly. They flat out lie to you because they say they aren’t scheduling appointments beyond six months. They won’t tell you about travel pay being available unless you ask for it.”
Rowland also said there is a lack of commuting options available to veterans living in Southeast New Mexico.
“The thing that’s really frustrating is the (Disabled American Veterans) normally has travel vans that will transport vets,” he said. “Every other state I’ve been to except for New Mexico, the DAV will transport vets from their homes to VA clinics and hospitals, but not in Southeast New Mexico.”
Those wishing to attend the Artesia clinic’s official grand opening on July 3 should contact Sonja Brown by July 1 at (505) 256-2771. Brown is the chief of voluntary service and public affairs operations for the New Mexico VA Health Care System.
Tours will be provided and refreshments will be served at the grand opening.