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Primary care expansion set for Marion VA

NEW CLINIC:A rendering of the new Marion VA Patient Aligned Care Team clinic. The new facility will be connected to Building 138, feature its own main entrance and expanded parking, while centralizing the primary care across campus.

BY Spencer Durham - sdurham@chronicle-tribune.com

The Marion VA will upgrade its primary care with the construction of a new primary care clinic, beginning sometime next year.

Phil Shealey, assistant director of the Northern Indiana Health Care System, which includes the Marion VA, said the Patient Aligned Care Team (PACT) clinic will connect to Building 138, the main facility on campus. The project will also involve the demolition of the vacant Building 12. Most of the area where Building 12 sits will become a parking lot, Shealey said.

This will allow for easier access to the PACT clinic's main entrance. The new clinic will also centralize the primary care that is currently spread across campus. A centralized location will allow for better access for patients, Shealey said.

Eight PACT teams will comprise the facility. A PACT team includes a doctor plus a number of other specialists, according to Shealey. In addition, the facility will also have a float team. Shealey said this team will fill in gaps for other PACT teams.

For example, if a patient's doctor is sick for the day, instead of rescheduling, Shealey said this float team will allow for the patient to still make their appointment.

The clinic is among $150 million in projects committed through 2022 throughout the health care system which has campuses in Fort Wayne and Mishawaka.

Construction could begin as early as next spring on the roughly 20,000-25,000 square foot PACT facility, according to Matthew Kelly, health systems specialist to assistant director.

The clinic will have two floors plus a basement. Shealey said the Marion campus services about 8,000 primary care patients. A new clinic will allow the Marion campus to serve more patients when completed.

“We want to grow with the need of the veterans,” Shealey said.

The max number of patients will depend on the different types of the doctors staffed at the VA, Shealey added.

Kelly said the VA is working through the submitted bids for the project. Cost of the project won't be known until a contractor is selected. VA officials said the project was intentionally delayed a bit to allow for more flexibility. Kelly said had the VA went the quicker route it would have limited the number of changes or tweaks that could have been made. Shealey said taking the longer route will pay off in the end.

Kelly said they will probably wait out the winter months before ramping up activity for the new facility.