Naval Hospital Beaufort opens new outpatient clinic

mmcnab@beaufortgazette.comMay 22, 2013 

Capt. Joan Queen, commanding officer of Naval Hospital Beaufort, and Scott Isaaks, acting director of the Ralph A. Johnson VA Medical Center in Charleston, are applauded after they cut the ribbon to the Beaufort Naval Hospitals new clinical space on the fourth floor of the hospital on Wednesday. The new clinic will allow the hospital to serve an additional 1,200 patients.

JAY KARR — Jay Karr Buy Photo

Leaders of Naval Hospital Beaufort celebrated the opening Wednesday of expanded clinic spaces that will provide outpatient services to almost 1,200 veterans and active-duty personnel.

The Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center in Charleston was a partner in the project. The ceremonial ribbon was cut by Capt. Joan Queen, the hospital's commanding officer, and Scott Isaaks, the acting director of the VA center.

The new clinic space on the fourth floor will eliminate trips to Charleston or private-sector hospitals for local veterans, said Tonya Lobbestael, the VA center's public affairs officer.

The primary-care center in the new clinic will have a staff of 30, including nurses, doctors and mental-health professionals.

The clinic also will integrate "telehealth" services, which use high-definition video cameras and computers. Patients in need of certain services, such as care for post-traumatic stress disorder or post-surgical wound checks, will be able to talk about treatment from exam rooms in the Naval Hospital to technicians in Charleston.

The care center is the newest piece of the Lowcountry Federal Health Care Alliance, set up in 2006 to manage health care services at Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs locations.

In September, the naval hospital unveiled an MRI trailer purchased by the alliance. It is operated by two technicians at the hospital eight to 10 hours a day, hospital executive officer Capt. Melanie Merrick said.

The alliance's goal is to provide medical care within a 30-minute drive for all veterans in the Lowcountry, hospital public affairs officer Regena Kowitz said.

"Having the clinic here allows the hospital to provide seamless care, from active service members to veterans," she said. "Our service members stationed here are really excited about it."

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