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Albert Lea’s VA clinic to open in April

Published 10:41am Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The new Veterans Affairs community-based outpatient clinic in Albert Lea is slated to open mid-April, according to local and federal officials.

The clinic, which will offer primary health care services and mental health counseling, sometimes through video conferencing, will be in the former JoAnn Fabrics at the Skyline Plaza.

An open house is slated for April 11 for community members and local, state and federal officials.

Freeborn County Veterans Services Officer Ron Ruele said the building will serve veterans in southern Minnesota and northern Iowa, throughout an about 50-mile radius.

He said construction is moving swiftly with most of the sheetrocking completed and a new entrance being installed in the back of the Skyline Plaza.

Officials announced the decision to bring the clinic to Albert Lea in November, about five years after the original announcement for a clinic in south-central Minnesota.

Ralph Heussner, VA public affairs officer, said in a previous Tribune article that the clinic is expected to serve between 2,000 and 3,000 veterans in its first year of operations. This is expected to grow in subsequent years.

The next closest community-based clinics are in Mankato, Rochester and Mason City.

The clinic is expected to employ 15 to 22 people, Reule said.