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Veterans Service Close to Home
By Catherine Stortz Ripley
February 3, 2015

CAPTION: John "Jack" Lineberry exits the mobile medical unit which was brought to Chillicothe on Monday, February 3, 2015, through the Department of Veterans Affairs. The unit will be in Chillicothe the first and third Mondays of each month (except holidays). Lineberry, a U.S. Naval Aviation veteran, usually travels to Columbia for regular checkups.

C-T Photo / Catherine Stortz Ripley

Veterans who travel to VA facilities out of town for routine medical care now have another option close to home - that of the mobile medical unit. The unit made its first stop in Chillicothe on Monday and will return to Chillicothe the first and third Mondays of each month (excluding holidays). The unit will be parked near the veterans monument on the south side of the Livingston County Courthouse on these days from 9:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. The mobile unit provides regular services that can be found in medical clinics, including assessments, blood draws, blood pressure checks, temperature, ordering and renewing medications, blood glucose testing, and more. The unit also is equipped with tele-health technology, which links the mobile unit to a physician at a medical facility, for video and audio assessments. Additionally, the unit is equipped with a tele-retinal system for eye care assessment. The unit is staffed with a nurse practitioner, a registered nurse and a licensed practical nurse.

Monday's inaugural stop in Chillicothe included appointments for six primary care visits and 13 lab services. Among those visit the unit was Don Worthington, who served in the U.S. Navy from 1956 until 1962. He usually travels to the VA hospital in Cameron, some 40 miles away, for his regular checkups. John "Jack" Lineberry, of Chillicothe, served in the military as a Naval Aviation Cadet from 1942 until 1945 and was in the reserves for several years thereafter. He usually travels to Columbia, approximately 100 miles away, for medical checkups. This time, however, he was able to use the mobile unit. And, because the unit is equipped with a wheel chair lift, getting in and out of the unit was easy. Both Worthington and Lineberry said they were pleased with their first visit to the mobile unit and agreed that it was better than traveling to their regular clinics out of town. Kellie McGinnis, LPN, advised that a lot of the veterans are too sick to drive, they don't have a vehicle or they don't want to make that drive. She said veterans appreciate the convenience that the mobile unit provides and noted that wait times are short.

The mobile unit is three years old and is headquartered in Kansas City. It has been traveling to Trenton and Carrollton for several years and also makes regular stops in Olathe and Bolivar. Soon, the unit will begin making visits to Osceola. The unit has yet to be named, but suggestions are being taken from the veterans. D. Farrar, a nurse with the unit, emphasized that the unit provides clinic services only and is not an emergency vehicle. Veterans needing emergency care should go to the hospital. The mobile unit does not accept walk-in patients.

Veterans who want to switch their primary care from a facility to the mobile unit should contact Veterans Affairs and ask to speak to the registration department. Veterans needing to have lab work done or have stitches removed and don't want to travel out of town can make arrangements to be seen at the mobile unit without switching primary care physicians. The unit's next visit is Monday, March 2. There won't be another visit in February due to the Presidents' Day falling on Monday, February 16. Generally, the unit will not travel to communities when schools in the area are closed due to inclement weather.

George Laprade, local veterans advocate, said he was contacted a few months ago about establishing a Chillicothe location for the unit. He said the first visit went well and due to the fact that Chillicothe is at the crossroads of U.S. Highways 36 and 65, the unit is easily accessible.

Appointments for the mobile unit can be made by calling 816-922-2977 or 1-800-525-1483, extension 52977. Transportation services are also provided by contacting Veterans Transportation Service at 816-922-2449, at least three days in advance of a mobile unit visit.

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