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Veterans Affairs Opens New Clinic In Sorrento Valley

Evening Edition

Aired 8/22/14 on KPBS News.

VA San Diego Healthcare System is opening a new clinic in Sorrento Valley, part of a plan to expand medical services to local veterans.

Veterans Affairs officials say the new Sorrento Valley clinic will have the capacity to offer medical and mental healthcare to some 17,000 patients a year.

VA Medical System Chief Robert Smith says the clinic should help ease some of the burden on their other facilities. But he concedes they need to do more.

“We don’t have enough space to take care of the population of veterans we have right now," Smith said. "And so that’s one of our big problems, is that we kind of outgrew the space and the facilities somewhere around four to eight years ago.”

Thanks to some new federal money, the VA will replace its clinics in Mission Valley and Chula Vista with much larger facilities.

Earlier this summer, the wait time for new patients to get an appointment with the VA in San Diego averaged 44 days. Officials said they've whittled that wait time down to 20 days, in part by calling more than 3,600 veterans to offer them earlier appointments, or by offering them the option to see a provider in the community.

Officials also credit expanded clinic hours and Saturday appointments.

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