Officials celebrate new Albert Lea VA clinic in ribbon cutting
Representatives from Freeborn County and staff and officials with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs on Wednesday dedicated Albert Lea’s new community-based outpatient clinic in a small ceremony at the site.
Patrick Kelly, director of the Minneapolis VA health care system, spoke of the fond memory he had of the dedication for the initial community-based outpatient clinic in Albert Lea seven years ago at Skyline Plaza.
He said he remembers how packed the mall waiting area was for the ceremony that day.
“It really told me how excited and passionate those veterans were about health care and getting a clinic where they lived,” he said.
The Albert Lea VA clinic is the southernmost clinic in the Minneapolis VA health care system. He said the new clinic signals the VA’s continued commitment to Albert Lea, Freeborn County and 1st District veterans.
“We’re committed to maintaining a presence in this part of Minnesota and providing care where veterans live — near where veterans live — so that not everybody has to go to the Twin Cities,” he said.
Kassidy Karnik, community-based outpatient clinic director, said when the initial VA clinic site opened in Albert Lea at Skyline Plaza in 2014 it had about 6,000 square feet and 15 employees and served 1,420 veterans after the first year it opened.
The new clinic is about 10,000 square feet, will have 17 employees — many of whom are familiar faces from the former clinic — and now serves 1,940 veterans.
Karnik said with the growth of the clinic, it will now be able to offer to provide more telemedicine to veterans with providers in Minneapolis, and will still have two primary care teams, mental health services, radiology, laboratory, social work, a dietitian and a pharmacist.
First District Congressman Jim Hagedorn, who took a tour of the facility before the ceremony, said he ran into a few veterans at the clinic during his tour. He said they were proud to have served and the country is now proud to serve them and make sure they are cared for.
Hagedorn spoke of the difficulties many veterans face, including post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health challenges, including suicide.
“The fact you have a facility here with mental health opportunities for people, that you’re looking out for them, that you’re going to help them live the longest and best life possible, it really means a lot to us,” he said.
Karnik and Kelly recognized Purple Heart Heroes and Borton Construction for their work on the project.
Officials in a previous article stated the new clinic was $6 million.
VA clinic to host vaccination clinic for vets
The Albert Lea VA outpatient clinic will host two COVID-19 vaccination clinics for veterans in the next few weeks:
- April 3, with second vaccine dose on April 24
- April 10, with second dose May 1
Area veterans are encouraged to call the clinic at 612-467-1301 to schedule an appointment.