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New VA clinic set for 2005

MANCHESTER, N.H. -- A Veterans Affairs outpatient clinic to open in Rochester within two years should ease patient demands on clinics in Portsmouth and Manchester, the secretary of Veterans Affairs said yesterday.

When it is completed in spring 2005, the 7,600-square foot clinic will eventually serve as many as 4,000 patients and may offer nutrition, mental health, and podiatry services.

Anthony Principi, Veterans Affairs secretary, made the announcement about the new clinic yesterday afternoon in Manchester.

When it opens, a smaller VA clinic in Wolfeboro will transfer its operations there. Closure of the Wolfeboro clinic may mean a longer drive for some of the 500 veterans who go there now, but Veterans Affairs officials believe a clinic in Rochester will provide better access to veterans from the Seacoast and southwestern Maine for the long term.

"Our primary care clinic in Portsmouth is currently at capacity and we expect the new Rochester facility to alleviate that problem," said Jim Thompson, a Veterans Affairs spokesman. "We also have a lot of veterans who are getting their primary care in Manchester who will be able to transfer."

The department expects to choose a site for the clinic by October.

"For years, veterans in the Rochester area have been forced to travel long distances to receive the medical care they were promised after their brave service to our great nation," US Representative Jeb Bradley, Republican of New Hampshire, said.

The new clinic "will not only cut travel time, but will also provide these proud veterans with more localized, accessible care," said Bradley, who serves on the Armed Services and Veterans Affairs committees.

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