VA health clinic opening Jan. 19 in Glen Burnie

New community facility will be 4th in Maryland

January 08, 1999|By E. B. Furgurson | E. B. Furgurson,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

The stereotypical visit to a Department of Veterans Affairs health care facility goes like this: a long wait for an appointment, hours sitting in an overcrowded waiting room, and finally a quick, impersonal visit with a stranger in a cubicle.

A new VA Maryland Health Care System clinic opening Jan. 19 at 1406 S. Crain Highway in Glen Burnie should change all that.

"Gone are the days of docs in a box," David Edwards, spokesman for the veterans health system said. "They will know their primary care provider, know the people in the office and see the same faces when they stop in."

The clinic will make it easier for Anne Arundel County's 56,000 veterans to get physicals, prescriptions, outpatient and preventive health care and other services.

The staff will provide information on self-examinations for cancer, ways to stop smoking, eating properly and avoiding influenza, pneumonia and other maladies.

"We think it's just great -- it'll be so convenient," said Perry Linthicum, past commander of American Legion Post 40 in Glen Burnie.

Linthicum, a Navy veteran of World War II who served on an assault transport that unloaded Marines at Saipan in the Marianas, the Marshall Islands and Okinawa, said he now will be more likely to use his VA medical benefits.

"We were told we can transfer our cases down here -- that will be a lot easier," he said.

Anne Arundel veterans now have to travel up to 90 minutes to Baltimore or Charlotte Hall to see VA doctors. Congress instructed the VA to provide access to medical services within 30 miles or 30 minutes travel.

Clinic director Nancy Quailey-Giannopoulos said she is eager to bring health care to underserved and aging veterans in this area. Nearly 5,000 county veterans use the VA system, and half are expected to visit the Glen Burnie clinic in its first year.

"We are working with an aging population, some who have no insurance and no other access to health care," she said.

"I've never had so many phone calls," Edwards said. "Mostly it's the wives who call."

One woman called just after the announcement of the new clinic to register her husband and was told that she should call back in December.

"Dec. 1 at 8 a.m. she called back," Edwards said. "I am lucky I had the information for her."

The ability to fill prescriptions at the same place the veterans see their doctor will be convenient for patients, and family and friends who drive them, said Del. Joan Cadden, an Anne Arundel County Democrat.

U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, a Maryland Democrat, has been given credit in veterans circles for pushing community clinics nationwide and helping to establish the four in Maryland. The clinic that opened in Cambridge in 1988 was one of the first in the nation.

The other Maryland clinics are in Hagerstown and Cumberland. A fifth is under construction on the grounds of the Baltimore VA Rehabilitation and Extended Care Center on Loch Raven Boulevard.

Pub Date: 1/08/99

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