03/31/11 7:00am
03/31/2011 7:00 AM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | The front entrance of the new veterans clinic at the County Center.

UPDATE: The East End Veterans Clinic’s mental health offices will open Monday, May 2, and the primary care offices will open Wednesday, May 4, county officials said Thursday.

ORIGINAL STORY PUBLISHED MARCH 23:

A state-of-the-art medical clinic operated by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is expected to open at the County Center in Riverside next month, officials said. The new center will help local veterans cut down on trips to the Northport VA Medical Center, the region’s only full-service veteran’s hospital.

The $1 million facility, called the East End Veterans Clinic, will provide care for physical and mental conditions.
The 4,400-square-foot clinic will be located in the second floor of the county office building at 300 Center Drive off Route 51 and consist of six exam rooms, two counseling rooms, space to process paperwork and a lobby, officials said.

“Many veterans live on the East End of Suffolk County, and providing this satellite clinic will afford many veterans easier access to the care and benefits they deserve without the inconvenience of a long commute,” said County Executive Steve Levy. “The services offered by the VA can be life-altering.”

An elevator has also been installed, and a shuttle van will be provided for those who require transportation, officials said. The project cost the county $500,000. Another $500,000 in renovations and materials was funded by a state grant.

“The county apparently has finished all the work and renovation it committed to; now the VA is doing some finishing work,” said county Legislator Ed Romaine (R-Center Moriches), who had pushed for a clinic at Peconic Bay Medical Center.

He said Mr. Levy rejected his idea, causing the project to take longer to come to fruition.

Mr. Romaine’s spokesman, Bill Faulk, said the clinic will be open six days a week and may also have evening hours.

The county Legislature in August 2010 authorized the county executive to execute a lease for 10 years with Veterans Affairs, which will staff and equip the clinic. Mr. Levy said he likes the County Center location because of “the added convenience of being in the same building as the many other Suffolk County offices.”

MRIs and CT scans will not be available at the East End clinic, officials said.

VA officials have not yet committed to an opening date.

mwhite@timesreview.com