Veterans in northwestern Wisconsin can now find health care close to home, thanks to the opening of a new VA clinic in Rice Lake.
The new clinic will serve veterans from 6 northwestern Wisconsin counties – Barron, Burnett, Polk, Rusk, Sawyer and Washburn. Leaders with the VA say an estimated 17,000 live in the region.
And for many veterans, the clinic has been a long time coming.
"I've been waiting for it for many years,” said veteran Jerry Hazlewood. “I've known about it for over 5."
"We've been waiting for 4 years to get this one open," added the VFW’s 9th District Commander, John Fredrickson.
"It's probably long overdue, but then again, everything in this country does take forever,” said James Sanders, Commander for the American Legion Post in Rice Lake.
"It's a very exciting day," said Dr. Michael Koopmeiners, with the Minneapolis VA Medical Center.
Dr. Koopmeiners says the Rice Lake facility finalizes the network’s presence in western Wisconsin
"The Wisconsin [community-based outpatient clinics] end up being Twin Ports, Hayward, Rice Lake and Chippewa Valley.”
Dr. Koopmeiners says right now, the clinic will provide primary and preventative care – with plans to branch out, thanks to a high-tech telemedicine system.
"We're looking at bringing in such things as dermatology, orthopedic surgery by telemedicine, cardiology by telemedicine, cardiology by telemedicine,” Dr. Koopmeiners said. “So, they won't be here in the clinic, but they'll be very accessible by telemedicine."
The new VA clinic is located on College Drive in Rice Lake. It’ll be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. – but you will need an appointment.
Veterans who are already registered with the Minneapolis VA Medical Center can request a transfer to the Rice Lake clinic by calling 1-866-414-5058, Extension 1100, Option 4.