VA seeing more than 5,000 regularly at Ina facility

A new Veterans Administration clinic in the Northwest has proven popular with veterans, and more than 5,000 patients regularly seek care at the facility.

The VA Northwest Tucson Clinic, located at 2945 W. Ina Road at the southwest corner of Ina and Shannon, has the capacity to see up to 7,000 veterans, according to Sally Petty, RN, a certified nursing executive who serves as chief of the clinic's community clinic care line.

"My mission and that of the staff is to provide quality care and service to our vets closer to home for healthier tomorrows," Petty said. "We're trying to give care closer to where our vets live so they don't have to travel so far for care."

The VA Northwest Tucson Clinic occupies nearly 10,000 square feet. It is open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., except on federal holidays.

"A vet can walk into any of our facilities and inquire about services, and we will do the best we can to answer all their questions, start their process to see what their eligibility is, and then figure out with the vet what would work best for them and where they'd like to receive their services," Petty said. "A lot of those vets are choosing to come to the Northwest Tucson Clinic."

Pete Mendoza, public affairs officer for Southern Arizona VA Health Care System, said the VA had more than 558,000 outpatient visits in Southern Arizona, and more than 10,000 inpatient stays.

Besides the main VA facility at 3601 S. 6th Ave., the VA operates seven clinics —the Northwest Clinic and others in Yuma, Casa Grande, Green Valley, Safford, Sierra Vista and its newest, in Southeast Tucson at Valencia and Houghton roads.

Petty said the VA Northwest Tucson Clinic is designed to deliver primary care, physical therapy, radiology, pharmacy counseling, mental health, optometry services, health screening and promotion, nutrition services, social work, health maintenance, and management of acute and chronic diseases, as well as eligibility and enrollment assistance.

The Northwest Tucson Clinic has 32 staff members, including three physicians, three nurse practitioners, two pharmacists, two physical therapists, a physical therapist assistant, and an optometrist.

"We also have begun a home-based primary care program out of the Northwest Clinic for patients who are home-bound or have mobility issues that make it difficult for them to travel to the clinic for their primary care visit," Petty said. "We have a nurse practitioner, dietitian, social worker and a nurse who can make visits to the home and provide the care there for the vet."

The clinic also has an operating laboratory where specimens can be drawn, a radiology technician who can perform simple X-ray studies, and an enrollment and eligibility clerk who can shepherd vets through the process of determining eligibility and enrollment status.

Overall, vets have responded well to the Northwest Clinic, Petty said.

"They've told us in feedback that they're pleased not only with the quality of care they receive when they come to the Northwest Clinic, but also with the variety of services available."

Petty expects to see the number of patients at the Northwest Clinic to increase.

"Geography is very important for folks," she noted, "where they don't want to travel so far for their care."

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