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Veteran Healthcare Executive Director Excited About Putnam Expansion

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Veteran Healthcare Executive Director Excited About Putnam Expansion

Tennessee Valley Healthcare System’s Executive Director visited a Putnam County veterans day event Wednesday, expressing optimism about a larger Cookeville clinic.

The system is planning on opening a large clinic in the county by 2026. Executive Director Michael Renfrow said the planned clinic will be double the size of the current clinic. It will also expand specialty care services for veterans across the region.

“We are growing fast in this area. Focusing on veterans that are further away from our two main campuses in Nashville and Murfreesboro is a priority for us,” Renfrow said. “We just opened a new clinic here this year and that’s a bridge clinic until we open our large clinic.”

Renfrow said the new clinic location will be announced by spring. He said assisting veterans in the Upper Cumberland with expanded services closer to home would be a benefit of the expanded center.

“The further away you get from the two big hospitals in Nashville and Murfreesboro the smaller amount of services that are available so specialty care services,” Renfrow said. “Certainly we have primary care and mental health care here today, but the more services we can keep as close to the veteran as possible is certainly more convenient for them, and the access to those services directly contribute to better health outcomes.”

The location of the clinic has yet to be decided. One site discussed has been a seven-to-ten acre parcel at the current Putnam County Fairgrounds. The fairgrounds site is one of several possible locations being considered in the county.

“A private contractor will bid on that,” Renfrow said. “There’s a set of what we call a delineated area, which is an area that excludes certain things like we can’t build it next to a liquor store. There’s several other things that are in the federal guidelines. So we got that area built out. The contractor will pick from a space that is available in that area.”

Renfrow visited Cookeville to share information on the PACT Act.

“We’re just a few months past the first-year anniversary of the PACT Act,” Renfrow said. “Largest expansion of VA health care certainly in our life time, and a lot of folks that have not been eligible for care or may have been denied care are now eligible under the Pact Act. So getting folks enrolled so they have access to the benefits they’ve earned is really critical.”


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