Veteran Town Hall (copy)

Angelia Scott, acting assistant director at the Dorn VA Medical Center, speaks with one of several community members who gathered Feb. 27 for a town hall at the Orangeburg County Council Chambers.

Dorn Veterans Affairs Medical Center announced in February its plans to build a new outpatient clinic in Orangeburg.

“We want to make sure that we're providing you the best care possible, finding innovative approaches to offer enhanced services and listening to you to find out ways that we can constantly improve,” Dorn Medical Center Director/CEO David Omura said, during the February town hall meeting.

Dorn Associate Director Jeff Soots said the center has $82 million worth of funding for construction projects.

As part of that, there are plans to construct a new 24,000-square-foot community-based outpatient clinic in the city limits of Orangeburg. It is set to be complete within the next three to five years.

“We see the population growth in Orangeburg, and we understand the need to provide you with care in this city vs. having to drive to Dorn. But if you do come to Dorn, hopefully we have the capability to get you into some of those facilities,” Soots said.

Soots said the Dorn Medical Center is also adding an $8.9 million, three-and-a-half deck parking garage with 280 parking spaces. There will also be two full-time, 15-passenger handicapped-accessible shuttles to move veterans across the center’s 93-acre campus as needed, he said.

“In addition to the parking garage, we have 20,000-square-foot, free-standing buildings that are going to go up on the 13 acres of additional land that we got back to add to our campus. We’ve got the prosthetics and sensory aid center, a rehab facility, an optometric center and a mental health center of excellence. All of those are part of that $82 million,” Soots said.

The Dorn Medical Center has also been awarded a 16-suite Fisher House through the Rockville, Maryland-based Fisher House Foundation.

The foundation builds comfort homes where military and veteran families can stay free of charge while a loved one is in the hospital.

“The VA cannot fund this, but … the community of Columbia has partnered with the Fisher House Foundation to build us a Fisher House on the corner of our campus," Soots said.

Soots said a remodeling effort at Dorn Medical Center will also include the renovation of Building 10, a 20,000-square-foot facility built in 1930. It will be turned into a primary care campus.

Dorn Acting Assistant Director Angelia Scott said, “We also have a 7,000-square-foot police headquarters that is going up.”

An ambassador program will be started with 10 full-time employees who will be in the lobby and throughout the facility to answer veterans' questions and escort them to appointments, Scott said.

Ruth Mustard, associate director for patient and nursing services, said the center is working to provide cardiac intervention services through balloon angioplasties and stents and is recruiting for a second vascular surgeon.

“We’re about to embark on opening up and staffing another operating room so we can use our rooms to the fullest capacity. We do have a renovation project on the books to add actually maybe four additional ORs on the fourth floor,” Mustard said.

Also, telehealth services are being expanded, particularly in the area of mental health.

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Staff Writer

Gene Zaleski is a reporter/staff writer with The Times and Democrat.

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