AL council luring VA clinic

Published 10:43 am Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Albert Lea City Council on Monday approved a $50,000 business subsidy as an incentive to bring a U.S. Department of Veterans Administration community-based outpatient clinic to the city.

The VA has announced a clinic for the south-central part of the state, but the question remains as to where the clinic will go: Freeborn, Mower, Waseca or Faribault County, said Albert Lea Economic Development Agency Executive Director Dan Dorman.

The clinic would serve not only Minnesota veterans but could serve Iowa veterans as well.

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Health care providers interested and experienced in providing these services are required to submit a proposal for a location in southern Minnesota by June 28.

Dorman said he has heard a decision could come by the end of July.

Local leaders have said they think Albert Lea would be an ideal location for a new community-based outpatient clinic, considering freeway accessibility and demographics of veterans.

The clinic is expected to create jobs and tax base for the community it will be built in. The facility would provide outpatient primary care for veterans along the southern border of Minnesota in a private hospital, office or clinic environment.

The project would be contracted out to a private organization, and the contractor would be required to have the necessary facilities, professional medical staff, diagnostic testing and treatment capability. Staff would have to be trained and certified through the VA, and any psychologists will only be staffed by the VA.

Dorman said locations discussed in Albert Lea have been the former location of JoAnn Fabrics in the Skyline Plaza and the former Elks Lodge location on South Broadway.

It has been more than four years since officials in Washington, D.C., announced plans for the clinic.

Albert Lea Mayor Vern Rasmussen said he hopes the subsidy will make the decision of where to put the clinic easier.