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Around Town: VA clinic issue at PCC continues to lag

Anita Brenner

After the rain stopped, we strolled toward Pasadena City College. The air was fresh, traffic was light, but my eyes were caught by the headline on the school newspaper.

The paper is called the Pasadena Courier. Like the Valley Sun, the Courier has a print edition that comes out on Thursdays, and a web edition available online.

Unlike the Valley Sun, the Courier is “produced and edited by students” as part of the school journalism program.

Here is the headline I spotted: “Nation’s first community college veterans clinic coming to PCC.”

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I was happy, but stunned. How could the Courier get the scoop on Around Town?

Last December, Around Town pointed out that the PCC Board of Trustees had been dragging their heels on approval of a campus VA clinic.

Rep. Judy Chu had done the heavy lifting for a Veterans Administration community outpatient clinic to be located on the Pasadena City College campus, but open to all area veterans, not just the 800 student veterans at PCC.

All systems were go for the clinic except for approval by the PCC trustees.

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PCC President Rajen Vurdien told me that “just prior to the holidays we received a legal opinion from our District Counsel regarding the housing of a Veteran’s Health Clinic on our campus. I will be discussing this opinion with our Board of Trustees before referring the matter to the VA for their review and response.”

And then, silence.

I was happy to see the Courier headline. At last there was progress!

But then I read the article and noticed this quote from Patricia D’Orange Martin, coordinator, PCC Veterans Resource Center: “Martin explained that once a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is reached between the lawyers for the VA and PCC, the Board of Trustees will be left to vote on the MOU.”

No MOU? I contacted Ms. Martin.

“Nothing has been decided yet,” she said, “except that the Board of Trustees did agree in 2014 to have the Fundraising Committee go out and raise the funds for the project.”

I asked if the fundraising goals had been reached.

Martin explained that the committee reached that goal at the end of last year. “There has been an incredible ground swell of community support for this project. From Rotary, veterans organizations to local foundations and private citizens, the committee was able to raise $300,000 just by word of mouth with no formal campaigns or publicity. This will truly be a community partnership.”

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What’s the status? I asked.

Martin said, “The PCC Board of Trustees are still going through the process of reviewing the MOU for the Veterans Clinic at PCC. Once the MOU is finished, the next step will be for the Board of Trustees to vote on the MOU.”

At this point, months after all other goals have been met, there is still no word from the PCC trustees. An online search reveals that the VA center isn’t even listed on the PCC trustees meeting agendas.

Not good.

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ANITA SUSAN BRENNER is a longtime La Cañada Flintridge resident and an attorney with Law Offices of Torres and Brenner in Pasadena. Contact her at anitasusan.brenner@yahoo.com. Follow her on Instagram @realanitabrenner, Facebook and on Twitter @anitabrenner.


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