Chehalis VA Clinic to Close in October


As many as 3,500 local veterans may soon have to make the trek to Olympia for health care, as the South Sound VA Clinic in the Lewis County Mall prepares to close this October.

Clients will be redirected to a new Olympia VA-operated clinic, which will open Aug. 16, according to Tami Begasse, VA Puget Sound Health Care System public affairs director.

Begasse cited “prohibitive costs” to running the clinic, saying VA Puget Sound won’t be renewing its contract for the facility.

“Coming in at $4 million annually, the per-patient expenses under the current contract are the highest in the nation, and we have a responsibility to both the veterans we care for and to taxpayers who fund that care,” she wrote.

The Chehalis clinic opened in 2010, when, as The Chronicle reported, many local veterans drove to VA Puget Sound’s Tacoma location for primary care.

The move is expected to reduce costs by a million dollars annually for the VA, and could mean reaching an additional 2,000 patients in Mason, Pierce and Thurston counties, Begasse wrote.

The new 9,739-square-foot facility will provide in-clinic and home-based care, laboratory services, behavioral health, social work, prosthetics and orthotics, clinic pharmacy specialists, telemedicine and nutrition.