Doctor's departure behind VA clinic shut-down

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By Damon Lawrence

The recent closure of the VA Outpatient Clinic in Rockwood is temporary, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

The clinic had just opened in June.

“It is going to reopen, but we don’t have a date yet,” said Chris Alexander, a spokesman for the VA’s Tennessee Valley Healthcare System.

The clinic is at 450 S. Chamberlain Ave. in the Chamberlain Professional Building.

Instead of being run by the VA, the clinic is operated by a private contractor.

Alexander said a contract issue is behind the closure.

“I don’t know the specifics on it,” he said. “I can just tell you that we’re working to help resolve those as soon as possible.”

The VA announced in March 2008 that Roane County was one of six locations in Tennessee that would have a new outpatient clinic.

It took more than two years after the announcement for the clinic to open.

The clinic operation was put out for bid, and the winning bidder was Geoffrey Marshall of Veteran Services of America Inc.

“He (Marshall) is in the process of trying to get the clinic reopened,” Rockwood Mayor James Watts said. “Their doctor had left, and you can’t run a clinic without a doctor.”

Despite the recent setback, Alexander said the VA still plans on having a clinic here.

“We’re committed to that clinic and that community,” he said. “We plan on having the clinic open just as soon as we can, but we don’t have a firm date right now.”

Alexander said several hundred veterans used the clinic. He said anyone needing assistance should call the VA’s help line at 1-800-228-4973.