Here's five things you need to know:
It replaces the one in Belleville
The new Shiloh facility, located at 1190 Fortune Blvd., is replacing the west Belleville VA Community Based Outpatient Clinic, which is no longer serving veteran patients.
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The former clinic had 15 staff members including three providers, nurses and medical surgical associates, a psychologist, telehealth technician and pharmacist. However, that number will increase at the new location to 21 employees including four physicians and more nurses and medical surgical associates.
"So we're going to be able to go from three (medical) teams to five, and that will be gradually," said Patty Hendrickson, VA St. Louis Health Care System associate director of patient care services.
The clinic will still have a psychologist, telehealth technician and pharmacist, but will have a new addition of a registered dietician.
Hendrickson told attendees at Thursday's grand opening that the need for a replacement facility was a response to "many of you who have been asking for services closer to home."
Shiloh Mayor Jim Vernier said the new location is "ideal," being right next to I-64 and less than a mile from two new hospitals — Memorial Hospital East in Shiloh, and St. Elizabeth's Hospital in O'Fallon.
Vernier's father, James Vernier Sr., a Korean War veteran and Purple Heart recipient, said he was excited about the new location's closer proximity to his home and the highway.
"It's going to save me a lot of time," the elder Vernier said.
It's bigger and will serve more veterans
The new one-story clinic, which is located in the Parkway 64 Corporate Center, will be about two and a half times the size of the Belleville one — a jump from 5,000 square feet to about 13,000 square feet.
"This clinic allows us to serve at least 2,500 more veterans in this area, so we will be able to serve them close to home and in their community," Hendrickson said.
The Belleville VA clinic served an average of 3,000 veterans, according to Hendrickson. The new location is expected to serve roughly 5,500 veterans for ongoing care.
Joining other local civic and government leaders at the Thursday's open house, St. Clair County Sheriff Rick Watson said the increased capacity at the new facility was "great" for the region.
"Great healthcare is something that everybody in this country should have availability to, especially our veterans," Watson said.
It's designed to provide faster treatment
The Shiloh VA facility is one of a handful across the nation implementing a system designed to make it easier for doctors and nurses to see more patients in a timely manner, according to Hendrickson.
The VA refers to it as a Patient Aligned Care Team model, Hendrickson said, which will allow for "ideal patient flow" by decreasing the waiting periods and eliminating unnecessary traffic between facility rooms.
"So the veteran goes to the room once, instead of going into multiple different rooms, and the staff goes in and out as they need to serve the veteran," Hendrickson said.
The new facility will be equipped with 15 exam and consultation rooms that will surround a large centralized area where providers will have access to technological databases.
"So, they have one stop, the veteran has fewer steps, and the staff are the ones who do the steps now," Hendrickson said.
She also said that it allows for additional privacy for the veteran who may not want others at the facility or family to know whether they are meeting with social workers or mental health providers.
U.S. Navy Vietnam veteran Aaron Reed, 71, of Mascoutah said he's looking forward to spending less time in the waiting room and more time in the exam room.
"I think this is a big-time saver, also," Reed said. "It's exciting when I get my next appointment, because then I'll be able to be here and actually experience it as the patient, not just a looky-loo for this time."
It will offer more services
In addition to mental health care, new whole health services will be available at the St. Clair County VA Clinic, including chiropractic, telehealth, meditation, battlefield acupuncture, rehabilitation, clinical dietician, social work, tai chi and yoga classes, as well as women-centric care.
"One of our primary focuses is suicide prevention, so we do have mental health services here. And any of our staff are trained and equipped to handle anybody who is in crisis," Hendrickson said.
According to Hendrickson, the main focus of the VA St. Louis Health Care System, and the new St. Clair County VA Clinic, is to "be the leader of (a veteran's) care plan."
"I think that's one of the things that's revolutionized and will continue to change the way that we deliver care," Hendrickson said. "Primary care is our foundational service here at the VA."
Another new feature is the educational space near the front entrance.
It will have a play area for kids
If veterans have kids, they need not worry, Hendrickson said, because there is a place for them, too.
"Women are one of our largest growing population(s) for veterans on this side of the river, and they have kids," Hendrickson said.
That was the main motivation for including the kid-friendly area at the Shiloh facility, she said.
"We have a play space for kids, it's our first one," Hendrickson said. "We've really changed our approach."
Whether it's grandchildren coming with their grandparents or children of a young veteran, male or female, the VA health care system has recognized that they still need a place for kids to be while veterans get the care they need, Hendrickson said.
"It's a much more welcoming environment," she said.