The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

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By Forrest Hershberger
Publisher, Sun-Telegraph 

Sidney VA Clinic to Close?

County Commissioners Sign Letter in Support of Sidney Clinic

 

April 20, 2022 | View PDF

In downtown Sidney, about a block from the Cheyenne County Courthouse and near the business district is a clinic designed to serve a specific population, the veterans who have served the United States and often have specific health needs resulting from their service.

There is also discussion of closing the clinic, a location defined as an “Other Outpatient Services (OOS) clinic. OOS clinics are for veterans to receive services that do not meet the criteria to be classified as a health care center.

“I haven't found a veteran in favor of it yet,” said Cheyenne County Veteran Service Officer Fred Wiedeburg.

Wiedeburg attended the Cheyenne County Commissioners meeting April 18 seeking support of a letter opposing the closure of Sidney's VA clinic.

He said the staff of one Physician's Assistant and three nurses have 400 to 500 veterans enrolled to use the clinic.

“I know there are several, several, veterans who us it, including myself,” said commissioner Darrell Johnson.

The commissioners elected to sign the letter in opposition to closing the clinic.

The Asset and Infrastructure Review Commission released a report in March referencing the “VSN 19 Cheyenne Market” recommendations, and justifications. The area in focus covers Montana, Utah, Oklahoma, much of Wyoming, Colorado, and parts of Nebraska and Kansas.

The report offers to “Modernize and realign the Cheyenne VAMC by converting the emergency department at the Cheyenne VAMC to an urgent care center.” The report says emergency department demand is low; utilizing convenient community access points to provide emergency department services and rescoping services to an urgent care center will allow the Cheyenne VAMC to align with the appropriate level of care needed to treat veterans.

The report also calls for establishing a new OOS near Laramie, Wyo. The report says in-house and commercial demand for primary care services in the Cheyenne market is projected to increase by 74.4 percent from Fiscal Year 2019 to FY 2029.

The report also suggests relocating all services at the Sidney OOS and closing the location. The report says the Sidney location has 404 enrollees within 30 minutes in FY 2019 and served 663 core uniques in FY 2019. The report also says the Sidney location has seen an historical decrease in outpatient encounters. Primary care encounters decreased by 25.6 percent from 3,797 in FY 2017 to 2,825 in FY 2019, and mental health encounters decreased by 36.9 percent from 461 in FY 2017 to 291 in FY 2019.

The report cites a critical access hospital in Sidney that offers primary care services. The report says “deactivating the facility and relocating care to community providers will allow the small enrollee population to have local, convenient access.”

 

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