SHAKOPEE, Minn. (WCCO) — The new Shakopee Veterans Affairs outpatient clinic is the 13th of its kind in Minnesota. The clinics stretch as far north as the Boundary Waters area in Ely. This latest clinic will serve between 3,500 to 4,000 veterans in the south metro.
The clinic offers a full range of primary care services including podiatry.
“We found more and more veterans have foot issues or problems,” said Patrick Kelly, Minneapolis director of the VA Health Care System. “So we’re offering podiatry services here and mental health services. We always offer mental health services in all of our clinics.”
At Monday’s grand opening, more than 200 veterans wanted to take a peek inside the new clinic and some were already scheduling appointments.
“I think it’s a great thing to have in Shakopee,” said Brad Pheifer. “I just got into the VA not that long ago. If you go down to Minneapolis, it’s packed and crowded. Now this makes it a lot easier for all the veterans.”
Kelly admits their wait times are longer than what they would like in Minneapolis.
“We have room for improvement,” he said.
According to the VA’s Access Standards data, wait times for new primary care patients in Minneapolis is around 28 days (established patients wait an average of three days). For specialty services like orthopedics, ophthalmology and dental, the wait time can go up to 40 days. The VA Access standard is 14 days.
Kelly said when clinics or his hospital can’t meet the need in the community, they end up buying care.
“That’s not our first choice,” Kelly said. “First choice is create efficiencies in the VA system. But in many cases, we buy care in the community. We spend a lot of money and I anticipate we will spend more money where we can’t meet the access standard.”
Kelly said veterans who have an urgent need are triaged. He hopes this new outpatient clinic will help cut down the wait time for those patients who don’t need urgent care.