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Progress could be made in 2011 on new vets clinic
Oakwood has some relief
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The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is moving forward on plans to replace the overcrowded veterans outpatient clinic off Mundy Mill Road in Oakwood.

A solicitation for bids should go out in January with a scheduled opening between January and March, said Devin Harrison, a community-based outpatient clinic coordinator with the Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Decatur.

The department is looking for 16,000 square foot of leasable space, VA spokesman Gregory Kendall said.

The VA hasn't targeted a specific location for the center, having said in the past only that it is considering an area between Dawsonville Highway to the north and Lights Ferry Road to the south, or a time frame for the opening, he added.

A clinic opened at 3931 Mundy Mill Road more than a decade ago to relieve overcrowded operations in Decatur.

In a September 2009 interview, Dr. Michael Streleckis, a practicing physician at the clinic since its opening, said the clinic had stopped accepting new patients several months earlier.

"We have just exceeded the capacity of the clinic," he said.

The Hall County area has grown considerably over the years, plus the number of aging veterans who need care throughout the region has grown. Also, newly returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan have pressing health care needs.

The current 4,500-square-foot center sits across from Gainesville State College and near shopping centers.

Officials have said they hope the new facility will be outfitted with new medical services currently unavailable at the Oakwood clinic, including podiatry and optometry.

Oakwood has gotten some relief from a 7,400-square-foot clinic that opened Sept. 27 in Blairsville.

"Improving access and adding services are part of our ongoing efforts to provide every veteran the best quality care," said James Clark, director of the medical center, around the time of the clinic's Nov. 30 grand opening.