CROWN POINT | A replacement Veterans Administration clinic in Crown point is on target for a July opening to serve a growing population of veterans needing services.
Of 22 Veterans Administration networks nationwide, the Great Lakes Region network has the highest percentage of veterans using services, said Ray Leber, spokesman for the Jesse Brown Veterans Administration Medical Center in Chicago.
"About 66 percent of veterans in the Jesse Brown area use veteran services. Nationally that figure is about 48 percent," Leber said.
The Adam Benjamin Jr. Outpatient Clinic in Crown Point is a satellite to the Jesse Brown Medical Center.
The $2.1 million, 70,000-square-foot building under construction at 93rd Avenue and Broadway replaces a 40,000-square-foot structure next door which was built in 1988.
"There was a need for bigger space," said Brice Johnson, senior construction representative with the VA Office of Construction and Facilities Management. "The needs of the community change. The population (of veterans needing services) went up," Johnson said.
Job loss and the accompanying loss of health care benefits account for some of the rise in veterans seeking services from the VA system, Leber said.
"The area has been hit hard by the recession," Leber said. "Veterans who before had jobs with health insurance are now looking to the VA."
The new clinic's design is meant to prove more appealing to women veterans, who in the past have not used VA services to the same extent as men, officials said.
"Women veterans aren't coming in in the numbers we would expect," Johnson said. "There are a lot of female veterans, and we're desperate to provide them services."
Of the nearly 14,000 patients to visit the clinic in 2010, about 700 were women, Leber said.
The Women's Health Care Suite in the new clinic will house five examination rooms, double the number in the existing clinic.
"What we worked to provide was a setting that's more in line with what (women) are accustomed to getting in the private sector," Johnson said. "We wanted to make them more comfortable with a space that's welcoming and encouraging."
Constructing the new clinic is part of the VA "continuous improvement process," Johnson said. "It's all about the patients. We design and build these facilities around the patients."
No date for opening the new clinic has been set.