Local veterans concerned about medical care services when Dothan VA clinics merge

DOTHAN, Ala.-- The Dothan VA clinics will soon be merging together as one.

Local veterans are upset about how the change will affect them when it comes to patient care.
One of Dothan's major VA provider centers will close in the process and merge services with the only other VA clinic in Dothan, which means thousands of area veterans will now be served at one facility.
Local veterans say the new merged clinic will not be equipped to handle the large number of patients which will create issues for those currently receiving medical care in Dothan.
"When you consider the sacrifices they have made for the benefit of our country, I just think this is a sad situation that this problem has exploded in Dothan," said local veteran and Dothan resident, Paul Byrnes Jr.
Byrnes says the merging of Dothan's VA Clinics is a problem for those who rely on the VA's local patient services.
The contract for CR Associates, which operates the Dothan VA Clinic, was not renewed, forcing the clinic on Alexander Drive to close.
"Unfortunately we're disappointed that it's closing. My father is a Korean War veteran. We deeply care about the veterans and have been serving them for almost 14 years," said CR Associates' Senior Executive Vice President, Charles Robbins Jr.
"They are going to have to go to the VA to find other means of care," said Robbins.
"We are going to be subjected to have to drive to Tuskegee or Montgomery for the medical services that are provided by this local office," said Byrnes.
Byrnes says Ft. Rucker's VA services are overloaded, leaving the clinic on Ross Clark Circle to serve the area's almost 4,500 veterans.
"It strictly has offices and classrooms for individual and group mental health therapy, period. It is no facility whatsoever to be that of a medical clinic," said Byrnes.
The clinic's 28 employees do not yet know what the closing means for them, but CR Associates' Senior Executive Vice President says they have the best in mind for the staff and patients.
"We are working with the federal government to make sure it's a smooth transition," said Robbins.
Byrnes says an agreement in the contract that will keep the clinic open on Alexander Drive would be the best resolution.
"I went to Representative Martha Roby's office last week. She just won the primaries with the help from veterans. I spoke to her staff manager who said Roby can't help directly because it's under the branch of the federal government. I think she needs to get more involved to make sure this doesn't close on November 30th," said Byrnes.
The clinic on Alexander Drive will close on November 30th and the two Dothan clinics will merge, that's if no extension is requested.

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