Schumer supports North Hempstead VA clinic

Schumer supports North Hempstead VA clinic
Supervisor Bosworth, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, the Town Board and North Hempstead Veterans call for federal funding for a Community-Based Outpatient Clinic in North Hempstead. (Courtesy of Carole Trottere)

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) added his voice to the chorus of officials calling for a Veterans Affairs clinic in North Hempstead. The Democrat announced that he would be making a push at the federal level for a local facility.

“Establishing a vets’ community-based outpatient clinic on Long Island is just what the doctor ordered for the north shore of Nassau County,” Schumer said. “My message today to the VA when it comes to this effort by North Hempstead, the answer is simple: give ‘em what they want.”

He added that until a community-based outpatient clinic could be permanently established, a mobile unit would provide local service in the meantime.

The closest VA hospital is in Northport, more than an hour’s drive for North Shore veterans. Currently, Nassau County has two outpatient clinics in East Meadow and Valley Stream. Neighboring Suffolk County has three.

Schumer said that a clinic would save money in the long term because local veterans would be more willing to make the drive for checkups, allowing doctors to catch a condition or disease earlier on.

He said that he is pushing for such a clinic to be put into the annual VA budget.

In a letter to acting VA Secretary Peter O’Rourke (who has since been replaced by Robert Wilkie, who was confirmed by the Senate earlier this week), he requested a mobile unit be set up immediately to handle overflow cases in North Hempstead and assist with transportation.

Schumer said that it would be up to North Hempstead officials as to where the mobile unit would be located.

The senator joins a number of local officials who have expressed support for a North Hempstead clinic, including Reps. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) and Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City).

“No veteran should ever go without the care they need simply because of where they live,” Rice said in a statement. “Right now, veterans in North Hempstead are over an hour away from the closest VA facility. For elderly veterans, veterans with families and jobs or veterans without access to a car, this trip can be nearly impossible to make on a regular basis.”

Officials in North Hempstead thanked Schumer for his advocacy, including Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth.

“The town is an ideal place for a [clinic] because of our large veteran population,” she said. “The clinic would also be complemented by the services provided by our Project Independence, we have a social worker devoted to veteran’s issues and we are able to provide taxis at a very reduced fare for medical visits… I am appreciative of Sen. Schumer’s advocacy on this important issue. He is always here for us.”

Reach reporter Luke Torrance by email at [email protected], by phone at 516-307-1045, ext. 214, or follow him on Twitter @LukeATorrance.

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