Tim Leeds Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
Decades of work are culminating in success with the opening of a Veterans Affairs clinic in Havre Monday. U. S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, congratulated the work accomplished on the local level to bring the clinic to Havre alleviating the stress and long distance of travel for qualifying veterans to receive VA-subsidized health care. “This really has been a grassroots effort that has been really difficult to get through the curves and crannies,” Tester said in a telephone interview from Washington this morning. Previously, qualifying veterans several thousand in a several-county region around Havre had to travel to get to a VA clinic. The nearest clinics were in Great Falls and Glasgow and a recently opened clinic in Cut Bank. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has announced VA Healthcare Montana will open the new clinic which will be located in space leased from Northern Montana Hospital, just east of the hospital parking lot in the same complex as the offices of dentists Drs. Michael and Daniel Shelby and the Bullhook Community Health Center. Two years ago, local veteran Merrill Lundman once again brought the issue to the forefront when he started a petition drive to ask for a Havre clinic. Havre had been passed over in the process that brought clinics to Cut Bank and Lewistown. Lundman died in December 2007, about a month before the VA announced it would open a clinic in Havre. Tester said Montana’s congressional delegation will begin work to have the new clinic named in Lundman’s honor, which will take an act of Congress. “It’s unfortunate he’s not still alive to see how his work, early on, came to fruition, to get this to occur ,” Tester said. “We think, I think, he did a great job getting the ball rolling. People thought this wasn’t possible but he got the ball rolling.” Long-time Havre physician Dr. Robert Henderson, who just left his 30-year career at Northern Montana Hospital, will be the doctor providing primary care at the clinic. The services available at the clinic will include routine physical examinations, laboratory testing, mail out prescriptions, immunizations, and preventative health maintenance, VA said in a press release. Those eligible to receive care at the clinic are those veterans in priority groups 1-8a, and 8c. Veterans already enrolled in the VA who are receiving care at other VA clinics in Montana can transfer their care to Henderson in Havre. Veterans who are already registered with VA Montana and are currently residing in Hill and surrounding counties will receive a notification in the mail. The clinic hours will be Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Veterans can schedule an appointment by calling (877) 468-8387. People can reach the clinic at 265-4304; fax 265-4305.