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Fairview Veterans Affairs clinic facility opens to grateful crowd

The community has been waiting — waiting for a much-needed expansion of local services for veterans, and for the construction site in the heart of Fairview to yield East Multnomah County’s new Veteran Affairs clinic.

That anticipation was clear during a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday morning, March 3, that filled the lobby of the facility at 1800 N.E. Market Drive to capacity. OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - The new VA Clinic in Fairview was dedicated before a packed house Thursday.

Joanne Krumberger, director of the Portland VA health care system, said she’s been to many clinic openings in the past, but the Fairview facility brought the largest turnout she’s seen.

“What an exciting day this is for us. We’ve been talking about this since the day I got here,” Krumberger said.

The veterans community has too, especially since the lease for the 3.5-acre property was signed back on Sept. 30, 2014.

The new 26,000-square-foot clinic will replace the current 7,500-square-foot East Portland facility in the Gateway medical building at 10535 N.E. Glisan St. While the building is owned by West Linn developer Jeff Parker, the VA leases the newly-completed space.

Classified as a 1A facility, the new clinic — one of only 32 in the entire VA system — will expand on the services already provided in the former space, including complicated procedures and mental health services.

The clinic will officially open Friday, March 11, and staff will begin moving into the new space this weekend.

“The qualities of a good health care system are not only a health care system that provides services based on the ideas and concepts that exist today, but that they look forward and are innovative,” said David Greaves, chief of psychology. “What you are seeing in this clinic today is an embodiment of those ideals. We are embarking on a new era of health care.”OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - An exam room at the new VA medical clinic in Fairview.

Greaves added that the integration of mental health and primary care at the new facility will be unlike any services offered before.

Former Fairview Mayor Mike Weatherby spoke to his pride in the project and what it means to Fairview and East Multnomah County.

“I’m humbled by the fact again that so many of you showed up today,” Weatherby said. “This is going to continue to be an example of what Fairview means for East County and for the larger area.”

Multnomah County Commissioner Diane McKeel said veterans services is a main priority for her office and the county commission.

“The outpatient clinic will greatly expand the capacity to help veterans meet their needs,” McKeel said. “We see a much better opportunity for veterans to get their medical and behavioral help. I look forward to the continued partnership with the VA.”

Fairview Clinical Practice Manager Corinne Dickey added that patients and staff are ready and excited for the new space.

“We have so been looking forward to opening this clinic,” she said. “My veterans tell me, ‘Dickey, can you at least get me a place to park when I come in for my appointment?’ Now, we have someplace to park.”

Right now, the clinic serves 8,600 veterans, but that number is expected to increase rapidly once the new space opens. Debra Sprando, the clinic’s operations manager, reiterated the excitement that opening the space brings, and its impact on the community.

“It is for all of you that are here today,” Sprando said, “our patients that have served our country, their families, and those here serving our great patients.”

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