1 - VA reps cut ribbon

The Marion VA health care facility unveiled its new addition to the main structure, building 138, that will streamline services for veterans in the community.

A local healthcare service officially opened a new building that will provide more streamlined services in a singular location on its campus.

Veterans Affairs (VA) Northern Indiana Health Care System unveiled its new addition to the building 138 medical center for urgent care that will officially open to the public on Jan. 12.

VA director Michael Hershman, chief of staff Dr. Grace Stringfellow, associate director Audrey Frison, associate director Tony Colon, assistant director Steve Sheets and a representative from the office of Victoria Spartz from the U.S. House of Representatives attended the opening ceremony to commemorate the work and future of the facility.

The new building added approximately 12,500 square feet to the campus, which expanded the clinical space provided at the VA and allowed for the use of the Patient-Aligned Care Team (PACT) model.

The PACT model allows for a more streamlined access to healthcare for veterans by offering more services in a singular space.

“Today, the new addition to building 138 of the Marion medical center is a PACT addition. PACT is our primary care aligned team,” said VA public affairs officer Alex Sharpe. “It’s just more convenient for our veterans.”

The new medical and urgent care building will provide services such as mental health services, social work and dietetics. Pharmacies and consultants to the veterans will also be stationed in the building to help veterans address their healthcare needs.

No new services are currently being offered through the expansion, but the project began due to the growing campus and veteran community in Marion to allow for future projects and services that may develop.

“We’re growing. We’re expanding. It’s innovation,” said Sharpe. “We want our veterans to not get the same care as the community but better care than they could receive in the community.”

The building was constructed with the intention of expansion in the near future. VA officials shared the goal of expanding the building with three additional stories when needed for even more space and new healthcare practices.

The building was also constructed to allow for an ease of access to veterans by moving operations toward the primary parking lot rather than requiring veterans to enter through the main entrance for processing before being directed to another building or sent through the already-existing urgent care facility.

Sharpe commented that the new building offers an environment that is more spacious than the previous urgent care ward and may improve the facility’s precautions for the pandemic.

Masks are required in all of the hospital’s facilities as a safety precaution. Screenings are also available at the gate upon arrival, and a checkpoint for testing and precautions is set up at the entrance of the main buildings.

Services are available to veterans around the county that are in need of healthcare services regardless of their condition. The process of signing up to receive care and possible costs are different for each veteran.

“If they are not enrolled and they want to be enrolled, they can call to see if they qualify,” said Sharpe. “I’m not the expert on enrollment, but it’s different for every veteran receiving care through us. If they have a service disability, they received from the service then that service would be treated here, and I believe that it would be free for them.”

Some services are still unavailable at the Marion campus, so redirection to another VA hospital or VA-affiliated and approved hospital may be necessary for some veterans.

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