LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - In 26 hours the old VA clinic was packed up and moved to the new state-of- the-art Charles Wilson VA Clinic and Tuesday was their opening day.
"It makes me feel good because sometimes I think that the Vietnam veterans are the forgotten war...and I thank God for this facility," said Vietnam Veteran Thomas R. Turner.
With over 37,000 square feet, 24 primary care exam rooms, a lab twice the size of the old one, and a digital radiology system, East Texas veterans are anything but forgotten.
"This building is the veterans clinic it's not ours, it just lets us be better at delivering services to veterans," said the clinic's Chief Medical Officer Anthony J. Zollo.
A physician's assistant will even save some veterans a few trips to Houston.
"He will be able to do some screenings and initial evaluations that will save veterans trips to the medical center in Houston," Zollo said. "They'll still have to go for surgery, but a lot of the preoperative evaluations will be able to be done here."
With a pharmacy three times the size of the old clinic's, complete with a robot named Barbara that dispenses your medications, the place is state-of-the-art and the veterans are loving it.
"I think it's good that veterans still have a place that they can go to and get care and whatnot," Turner said.
"We've had patients this morning and we're already getting rave reviews. They're delighted with it," said Director of the Mental Health Clinic Dr. Teresa Timmons.
She said it's the highlight of her more than 20-year career, an enthusiasm her co-workers share.
"Parking is a world of difference the space that we have, being able to grow the staff and the services that we can provide, I think it's going to be good for another 20 years," said Resident Engineer Maritza Guevara.
"I cannot wait to see the faces on some of the veterans. I think they're going to be shocked," said Certified Pharmacy Technician Christi Redd.
Shocked, when they can even pick up a sweet treat on the way out, that's service, for a group of people that have sacrificed their lives to serve their country.
"They're absolutely thrilled and excited. Everybody is impressed with the building and if I think it lifts everybody's spirits again," Zollo said.
"If you're a veteran and you need some help, check out Charles Wilson," Turner said.
The dedication ceremony for the new facility is scheduled for August 28, 2009 at 9 a.m.