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Devils Lake VA clinic sets opening date

DEVILS LAKE, N.D. — The long-awaited Devils Lake veterans clinic will open Aug. 19 at Mercy Hospital.

“The light is at the end of the tunnel, finally,” said Stacy Twete, Ramsey County veterans service officer.

It’s been about 10 years since the Veterans Affairs Department and North Dakota’s congressional delegation originally announced plans to open a satellite clinic in Devils Lake. However, the project has been delayed several times for lack of federal funding.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house for the new Veterans Affairs Devils Lake PrimaryCare Telehealth Outpatient Clinic are set for 1 p.m. Aug. 18 on the third floor of the hospital.

The clinic will open 8 a.m. to noon five days a week and will be staffed by two full-time registered nurses and one licensed practical nurse.

While other VA clinics in North Dakota offer telehealth services, the Devils Lake clinic will be the first in the state without a full-time physician on site, according to Peggy Wheelden, a spokeswoman at the Fargo facility.

Dr. Robert Holten, the clinic’s designated physician, will be stationed at the Fargo VA Health Care System, providing patient consulting services online through the telehealth system, which allows patients to see and talk to the doctor from remote locations, according to Wheelden.

Holten plans to be in Devils Lake at least once a month for face-to-face appointments, she said.

According to 2012 census updates, 2,285 military veterans live in the five-county area surrounding Devils Lake. They include 864 in Ramsey County, 408 in Benson County, 364 in Nelson County, 406 in Pierce County and 243 in Towner County.

The clinic also likely will serve some veterans in other nearby counties, according to Twete, including the 378 in Cavalier County, 195 in Eddy County and 227 in Foster County.

Today, the Fargo VA medical center, which serves about 33,000 veterans in North Dakota and northwest Minnesota, operates nine community-based outpatient clinics in seven North Dakota cities as well as in Bemidji and Fergus Falls, Minn.

The Devils Lake clinic already is scheduling appointments at (701) 352-4059.

Kevin Bonham

Kevin Bonham covers regional news, mostly from northeast North Dakota, for the Grand Forks Herald. A North Dakota native who grew up in Mandan and Dickinson, he has been a reporter or an editor with the Herald and Forum Communications for more than 30 years. Find his articles at: www.grandforksherald.com. He welcomes story ideas via email, kbonham@gfherald.com, or by phone, (701) 780-1110.  

(701) 780-1110
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