HAVRE, Mont. (NMB) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester spoke to New Media Broadcasters by phone on Tuesday to discuss next week’s opening of Havre’s new Merril Lundman VA Clinic in the Holiday Village Mall.
“To be able to get their care, whether it’s a vaccination for COVID or dealing with mental health or primary care issues, is really, really, very, very important. What also makes this particularly special is that the VA is changing. The fastest growing Veteran population is women. And this facility has been built to deal with our women’s Veterans in a way that allows for privacy and individual exam rooms and those kind of things.”
The 3,000 square foot facility will open on January 20th, and is the second VA health care facility in Montana designed around the Patient Aligned Care Team (PACT) model.
“This is a facility that is three times as big as the old one. It really is a jewel. I think once the Veterans are able to use this PACT model for their health care needs, I think it will allow for even more people to be able to be served by this facility. So it’s a very, very good thing.”
Tester adds that the opening of this facility has been a long time in the making, with funds having been provided in part thanks to the Appropriations Committee he sits on.
“We were able to get some dollars set aside for rural Veterans clinics. And then it just kept moving forward to the point we’re going to see the lights come on and the Veterans be able to use the facility on January 20th. I anticipate we’ll probably have a ribbon cutting later on in the spring and the summer when hopefully COVID is less of an issue.”
Tester will officially become the Chair of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee soon after Georgia Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff are sworn in, and he says he will use that position to advocate for Veterans on the Hi-Line.
“While folks are talking about the challenges of healthcare in places like Houston, Texas or Miami, Florida, or Minneapolis, Minnesota, I’m going to be talking about the challenges of healthcare in places like Chester, Montana and Havre, Montana, and Chinook, Montana. And making sure folks know that the policies we pass have to work for everybody in this country. When it comes to Veterans, we have a high percentage that live in the state of Montana, second highest per capita of any state in the union, so we need to make sure those Veterans are taken care of. And I’ll be looking at healthcare, education, housing from their point of view every day that I’m Chairman of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee.”
According to a press release, the new Havre VA clinic will begin inoculating Veterans with the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine on January 21st. Veterans have already begun being contacted by VA staff based on risk assessments to schedule appointments.
Veterans wondering about their eligibility to receive the vaccine through the VA are urged to call 447-7350.