More than 30 years ago Stacy Twete sat in the third floor waiting room of Mercy Hospital anticipating his first and only daughter’s birth.

More than 30 years ago Stacy Twete sat in the third floor waiting room of Mercy Hospital anticipating his first and only daughter’s birth. Now the  veteran’s service officer for Ramsey and Nelson Counties, he stands at the end of that very waiting room observing its demolition – for another good cause.

In September,  Mercy Hospital was awarded the agreement to build the Primary Outpatient and Telehealth Clinic (POTC). Instead of commuting to Fargo, Lake Region veterans will soon have access to  primary health care in Devils Lake.

”Every veteran deserves his (or her) health benefits,” said an enthusiastic Twete. “It’s time that the Lake Region got this clinic to serve the veterans.”
Mercy Hospital has dedicated its previous labor and infant delivery wing –  in use since 1957 –  to host the new establishment.

“What I hear from our veterans is they are very excited to see the project come into fruition,” said Mercy’s CEO Jim Marshall. “We are making progress and making this a reality.”

Efforts first began with Senator John Hoeven (then Governor) over a decade ago.  The Department of Veterans Affairs Fargo VA Health Care System will fund and manage the new clinic.

According to the Fargo VA Public Affairs spokeswoman Peggy Wheelden, the total cost of the third floor addition is $858,000. While annual operating costs will require  $237,000, she said. Also, the clinic will operate on part time hours from 8 a.m. to noon four days per week and a physician will visit patients on-site once a month.

Clinic staff will include two LPNs and one registered nurse. Physicians will be accessible to patients via videoconferencing, also known as telehealth. Telehealth uses video cameras, linking veterans to Fargo doctors and specialists who will consult the veteran patients or give them referrals to further care.

“Every veteran that I serve (or) help becomes a friend … There are so many veterans asking ‘How soon? When can I get an appointment (there)?’,” said Twete.
Contractor Mike Dunn, manager of Construction Engineers, said the tentative grand opening date is early July. Dunn added there are roughly 15 to 20 construction workers on-site everyday. The renovating team includes an architect, electrical and structural engineers, plumbers, carpenters and electricians.

According to the 2012 Federal Summary of Expenditures report, there are 814 veterans in Ramsey County, 364 in Nelson County, 195 in Eddy County and 408 in Benson County.

Twete said the convenience of this clinic will make it a popular choice. All veterans, of all ages – both male and female  are welcome, he said. The new clinic will see more Vietnam veterans as well as those from younger generations – but increasingly fewer from both World War II and the Korean War as those vets age and are no longer with us.