U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary visits UMass Medical School
- Medical School
Chancellor Michael F. Collins welcomed U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert A. McDonald to the UMass Medical School campus in Worcester on Thursday, Jan. 14, as UMMS and the VA work together to expand health care services to veterans. In addition to touring UMMS and presenting a lecture to faculty and staff on the state of the VA, Secretary McDonald was also scheduled to cut the ribbon on a newly finished veterans’ specialty clinic on the UMMS campus, located in the UMass Medicine Science Park at 377 Plantation Street. McDonald will be joined by U.S. Congressman James McGovern, VA New England Director Michael Mayo-Smith, John P. Collins, director of the VA Central Western Massachusetts Healthcare System, and Chancellor Collins.
The specialty clinic in the Biotech 4 building, which will begin seeing patients in March, will provide high demand services including podiatry, optometry and audiology. Audiology is a new service for Worcester area veterans, allowing them the opportunity to receive this important service locally, instead of traveling to other VA facilities in New England. UMMS and the VA are actively pursuing other opportunities for greater collaboration and shared programs in the future.
“The thing that’s important about the VA, and one of the reasons I jumped at the chance to do this job, is that we’ve got the most compelling mission in the world, to care for those who have saved us, who have bought our freedom, to care for those who have ‘borne the battle,’” McDonald said in a lecture at the Albert Sherman Center auditorium. “They’ve already done their share; now our job is to do our share.”
McDonald said the Veterans Health Administration cares for more than 9 million veterans, which represents about 34 percent of the 22 million veterans across the country.
“We think of the employees at the VA as heroes taking care of heroes,” he said.
Congress authorized the VA, through the Veterans Choice and Accountability Act, to lease a 40,000-square-foot clinical space to replace the current community-based outpatient clinic on Lincoln Street in Worcester. The VA has advanced two lots as finalists for that clinic, including the MassDOT property at 403 Belmont Street, which is adjacent to the UMMS campus.
Additionally, both UMMS and the VA are working toward an agreement that could clear the way to make clinical space available for VA health care providers to treat veterans in the Ambulatory Care Center on the UMMS campus.
“Be it education, research or clinical care, our institution stands ready to help you in your mission and most importantly to help those who have served our nation,” Collins told McDonald.