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Veterans show up with questions at town hall

By JEFF BROWN - jbrown@shelbynews.com

With military veterans and family members packed tightly into the Intelliplex Conference Center, Veteran Health Indiana received the message loud and clear — Shelbyville is positioned to be an active veterans clinic.

“We never really know (how many people will show up for a town hall meeting),” said Pete Scovill, VA public affairs officer. “You talk to people and they say it’s something they really want to do here, and you show up and there is 80 to 100 people here. The reason we do these town hall meetings is to make sure this is the right thing to do. 

“You can get the mayor of any community that says we really need a VA clinic. Until you come down and see for yourself, you are never sure. Sometimes it doesn’t work but this clearly shows people want to have a clinic here.”

Scheduled to open in late April at 30 W. Rampart St., site of former physician offices in the Major Health Partners system, the clinic will offer primary and mental health care, at first. As the VA sees the need for special services, those can be added to the clinic.

“I’ve watched some of the other clinics grow for veterans in that area it’s been a great thing,” said Clif Droddy, veterans officer of Shelby County. “From the questions asked today, there is a great interest (here).”

After opening remarks at Wednesday’s town hall meeting, Scovill traversed around the standing-room only conference center to take questions from veterans and their families. 

“What was interesting is it showed that veterans want to go to this clinic,” said Scovill. “I expected questions like, ‘Can I continue to go to (the Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center in Indianapolis)?’ And the answer is yes but nobody likes to drive if they don’t have to.”

The new Shelbyville clinic is located just off Interstate 74, approximately 25 miles from Indianapolis. 

Shelbyville Mayor Tom DeBaun initially set up a meeting between VA officials and Major Health Partners with the idea of turning Major Hospital into a VA clinic. That deal did not happen but it did lead to MHP offering up nearly 6,000 square feet of office space for a clinic.

“Major Health Partners is a great community partner,” said DeBaun after the town hall meeting concluded. “I don’t know if every community has that opportunity or that privilege, but we certainly rely on them for a lot.”

MHP opened its new hospital in January 2017 and tore down the old Major Hospital located in a residential neighborhood. MHP doctors will not staff the new clinic; its role is confined to assisting with logistics and secondary care as prescribed by VA physicians.

‘It’s just an excellent fit,” said Droddy, who helps veterans with issues such as benefits, disability and medical care. “I’m glad to see it because there are a lot of veterans that don’t like driving to downtown Indianapolis.”

The Roudebush medical facility sees over 2,000 patients a day, according to Scovill. A new clinic on the southeast side of Indianapolis should ease that burden. Scovill said the goal is to have a late-April ribbon-cutting ceremony in Shelbyville.