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VA finally approves new Pahrump clinic

Incoming U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald gave his approval for the award of a contract to construct a new veterans clinic in Pahrump, U.S. Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev. announced Tuesday.

“After too much time for the veterans of Pahrump they’re going to be able to have a groundbreaking as promised this fall and a new facility to serve their needs quickly,” Horsford said.

The lease on the existing building at 2100 Calvada Blvd. expires in December. Veterans advocates pleaded with the Nevada congressional delegation for a new clinic. U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., said every day his Southern Nevada office in Las Vegas heard requests from veterans about the Pahrump clinic.

Bids were requested for a new clinic to be located next to Desert View Hospital, which will be 9,948 square feet, more than double the existing 4,500-square-foot clinic. Two bids were assessed through an appraisal process and found to be reasonably priced for the area, but the cost was too high for approval by Isabel Duff, director of the Department of Veterans Affairs Southern Nevada Healthcare System, and required approval from the VA secretary.

Horsford said both bidders are still responsible and have valid bids. Now that the secretary of veterans affairs gave his approval the VA can proceed to sign a contract with one of the two bidders and proceed with construction, which is expected to begin in September.

“We’re very pleased. I want to thank the veterans in Pahrump for their patience. They have waited far too long to get the quality of health care they deserve. This has been a top priority of mine and I’m glad I was able to do my part in applying the pressure to hold the VA accountable,” Horsford said.

“For far too long, this issue was mired in bureaucratic muck,” Horsford said. “All we needed to move forward was a signature on a piece of paper. I applaud Secretary McDonald for taking quick action less than a week since being confirmed as the new Secretary of the VA. As a result of his responsiveness and attention to veterans, we will be better able to serve those who have bravely served our country.”

U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev. arranged a meeting to discuss VA services in Nevada, where Horsford, the freshman congressman from the fourth district, voiced concerns over delays in construction of the Pahrump clinic. At that mid-June meeting, the Assistant Secretary for Congressional and Legislative Affairs, Joan Mooney, promised completion of the project in a timely manner.

“For far too long, this issue was mired in bureaucratic muck. All we needed to move forward was a signature on a piece of paper. I applaud Secretary McDonald for taking quick action less than a week since being confirmed as the new Secretary of the VA. As a result of his responsiveness and attention to veterans, we will be better able to serve those who have bravely served our country,” Reid said in a prepared statement.

U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., issued a statement Tuesday he also received confirmation of the news. Heller said it will address concerns about the capacity of existing veterans’ facilities in Pahrump and the growing demand among the community’s veterans population.

“I was thrilled to report that the Department of Veterans Affairs has approved a clinic in Pahrump after veterans in the area have been waiting for more than two years. Pahrump veterans have fought for too long for this clinic to be built and with this good news veterans will soon have better access to the care they deserve. I will continue to press the VA for this project to move swiftly,” Heller said.

Heller asked then Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs Sloan Gibson for a specific time line regarding approval of the clinic. He also raised the issue in a one-on-one meeting with VA Secretary McDonald prior to his recent confirmation by Congress.

“Even with this bid that’s been approved it still doesn’t tell us what the bid is, who the contractor is, what the specific site is going to be, there’s still a lot of answers out there,” said Bob Hammond, the service officer for Disabled American Veterans Chapter 15 in Pahrump. “My concern is let’s see the shovel in the ground then we’ll know they’re finally doing something.”

He said it was unfortunate the secretary of veterans affairs in Washington D.C., who is too busy to consider a clinic in Pahrump, had to sign off on the contract when the funding had already been approved.

Hammond said since new legislation was passed allowing veterans to get health care elsewhere if they are more than 40 miles from a VA facility. Some local veterans are going to Desert View Hospital for X-rays, blood work, magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs) and CT scans. Desert View provides an office for Hammond to help veterans, he works it from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays while another DAV staffer mans the office from 8 a.m. to noon on Tuesdays.

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