From left, Col. Don Davis, commanding officer of Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany, listens as John Goldman, director of the Carl Vinson VA Medical Center in Dublin, discusses how the VA clinic in Albany will transition onto the base. The move is expected to take place by next spring. (Jennifer Parks)
MCLB-ALBANY — The process is continuing to move forward toward getting the Veterans Affairs Clinic, currently on West Broad Avenue in downtown Albany, onto Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany in the coming months.
John Goldman, director of the Carl Vinson VA Medical Center in Dublin, was the guest speaker at a retiree breakfast aboard the base Wednesday to give additional details on the transition.
“This means a lot to us,” Goldman said. “We do a lot with the Department of Defense, but this is my first time with the Marines. This has been great.
“(The clinic on the base) will provide the same services, plus some expansion. They will be made available to Marines on the base as well as retirees.”
Goldman said that there are two contract outpatient clinics under the Dublin facility, the one in Albany and another in Macon. The move of the Albany clinic to MCLB-Albany, he said, was prompted by the intention to formally bring that clinic under the VA umbrella as a way to better control the clinic and offer a higher quality of care.
As part of this, the new staffing plan will include doctors, nurses, social workers and — as expansion takes place — a dietitian, he said.
As the plan stands now, the clinic will be opening in the building now occupied by the Marine and Family Services Center by next spring while the family services team will move into an old library facility on the installation, officials say.
The current contract on the Albany clinic, which has since been extended, was set to expire at the end of this month.
“We have extended our contract by six months to work out the details,” Goldman said.
Col. Don Davis, commanding officer of the base, said that such a move would be an opportunity to do better, not just for the active and retired Marines in the community, but the military community as a whole.
“By and large, this is great news,” Davis said at the breakfast. “I couldn’t ask for a better opportunity to serve.”
Goldman said the VA came to MCLB officials about moving onboard the installation roughly 18 months ago, around the time then-Col. Terry Williams was about to transition off of his role as commanding officer of the base. The VA came back eight months ago, and Davis signed an agreement that ultimately set things in motion.
“We had available space the VA was interested in, and there was an opportunity to share resources,” the colonel said. ” … (The partnership) is to get better service to everyone. It is such a win for everyone.
” … It is not a win for the Marine community, it is a win for the entire community. The quality and quantity will go up; it will give them the ability to grow. It is a fantastic opportunity for those who have served our country.”
Roughly $500,000 was transferred over to help fund the move, Goldman said.
“We found when we came here that everyone was interested,” he said.
While work begins on renovating the chosen site, officials say work will also take place to address transportation barriers for some of the clinic’s patients as well as providing decals so they will be able to enter MCLB’s front gate.
“We are moving,” Goldman said. “We’ve got a solid direction. Failure is not an option. We are going to make this clinic work.”
Goldman also added at the breakfast that there would be a clinic opening in Tifton in the next 12 to 14 months.