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New VA clinic helping Central Texas veterans

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The new Veterans Affairs outpatient clinic in Austin does not have its grand opening until next week but it has been open and helping veterans since July.

Located just off Hwy 183 south of Hwy 71 the new facility puts a premium on space. It has a lot of it. It is more than double the size of the old VA clinic on Montopolis.

"With the increased space there is increased service both specialty and room to grow to accommodate more vets in this location," said VA clinic administrator Gregory Vrentas.

At present they are seeing about a 1,000 patients a day.

Victor Polanco, a vet advocate at the center, sees more vets coming here simply because it is a more inviting place.

"At the old facility it was cramped," Polanco said. "Here you can see it's spacious. There are places to sit. You are not cluttered."

There is room for a complete clinic. It will have everything from a mental health center to a women's clinic to oncology to ear, nose and throat. That is one key feature that means less traveling for veterans.

"It's a tremendous inconvenience when you feel good, when you don't feel good you just don't need it," said Dr. Abraham Delgado. "We don't want our patients to be traveling if they don't have to."

For example, if a veteran has a mental health appointment and a regular doctor visit scheduled they probably will not have the hassle of going to two different locations. When the veterans do arrive, it is a far more welcoming environment.

"We have windows to bring in the light to make things lighter," Delgado said "The other facility was dark. You could feel oppressed. Here you don't have that feeling. I've had vets tell me it feels good in here, different in a positive way."

Right now there are 30,000 veterans assigned to the new clinic. They are expecting 300 new vets per month.

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