Meadville veterans clinic closing Nov. 1

Published 5:00 am Friday, October 16, 2009

The Veterans Affairs Meadville Clinic in Franklin County isscheduled to close its doors on Nov. 1, sending area veterans onlonger journeys to other facilities for their health careneeds.

Mario Rossilli, a public affairs officer for the G.V. (Sonny)Montgomery VA Medical Center in Jackson, said VA contractor CRAssociates, of Virginia, will end a subcontract with FranklinCounty Memorial Hospital to operate the Meadville VA at the end ofOctober. He said veterans who had been receiving health care fromthe Meadville location would be able to attend any VA facility,with Jackson’s G.V. Montgomery and its satellite location inNatchez as the two nearest choices.

“We want the veterans to know we are going to make sure that anytransition of care is seamless,” Rossilli said. “They can go to anyone of our clinics in the VA system.”

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The Natchez clinic is located at 105 Northgate Road, Suite2.

Rossilli said a new VA clinic is scheduled to open in McCombnext summer.

In the meantime, Lincoln County’s elderly veterans are facingextended trips for health care – more than 50 miles to Jackson orNatchez.

“I’ll get a few friends to go with me to Natchez. I’ve beengoing to Meadville by myself,” said Carl Summers, an 87-year-oldWorld War II veteran who fought in the Italian Campaign. “I canstill drive my car, but when I get out I have a rolling walker. Iget a little tilted and I fall.”

Summers signaled his intention to use the Natchez facilitybecause of the dangers of Jackson.

“You know how it is,” he said. “You get up there on North Stateand have a flat, someone will shoot you and take your wallet beforeyou even get there.”

Don Driskell, 77, who served in the U.S. Army and was stationedin Germany from 1955-1958, said news of the Meadville closing”doesn’t strike me very well.”

“It was so convenient, and they were always very courteous,” hesaid of the Franklin County outpost. “Now, I’ll have to go all theway to Natchez. I don’t like the idea of going to Jackson.”

Paul Jackson, 84, a World War II veteran who fought in France,has chosen the Jackson facility, where he already has anappointment scheduled. He said his transition to the new center hasbeen problem-free, but he still laments the closure of theMeadville facility.

“I can’t understand why they would close it,” Jackson said.”That place stayed busy. It was a lot more convenient than Jackson.My medication came from Meadville. All I had to do was call and inabout two days, they’d have it.”