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Around Town: When will local VA clinic be built?

On Veterans Day 2014 and again in 2015, Rep. Judy Chu reminded us about plans for a Veterans Administration community outpatient clinic to be located on the Pasadena City College campus. The center would be open to all area veterans, not just the 800 student veterans at PCC, and would provide primary healthcare, screening, women’s healthcare and mental health services.

The VA estimates that more than 30,000 veterans live in the San Gabriel Valley. Right now, there are three ambulatory care centers in the region. The West Los Angeles Medical Center near UCLA, is 27 miles away. The Sepulveda Ambulatory Care Center in North Hills, is 20 miles from La Cañada, and the Los Angeles Ambulatory Care Center in downtown L.A. is 13 miles away.

That’s why the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System would like to collaborate to create an outreach clinic to be placed on the PCC campus. PCC has received grants for a “Vets to Nurses” program, and the proposed veterans clinic could be an additional educational resource.

Rep. Chu has the following statement posted on her website, chu.house.gov:

“I am working hard to bring a veterans health clinic to the San Gabriel Valley. For more than six years veterans in the San Gabriel Valley have been forced to make long trips to health centers outside our region in order to obtain treatment for service-connected injuries and trauma. With the help of a dedicated committee of Veterans Service Organizations including the Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, Disabled American Veterans and several community leaders we are making great progress towards establishing the ‘Veterans Health Center of the Foothills’ at Pasadena City College (PCC). For the first time ever, the VA will partner with a community college to place a Veterans health center on its campus that will provide primary healthcare services, women’s healthcare services, mental health services, and wellness therapies to all our Veterans. The VA and PCC are finalizing the details while the committee is close to meeting its fundraising goal of $300,000. These funds will go towards purchasing modular units, which will house the clinic on the PCC campus.”

Apparently, $300,000 is required to open the center. The Vet Center set up a donation page to help raise that amount. I understand the Pasadena American Legion Post 13 donated $10,000 and that, with the help of private donors, the $300,000 goal has been met.

So, what’s standing in the way? Why hasn’t the PCC Board of Trustees promoted this project? A search of the online PCC Board materials does not link to any reports about the status of the project. Unlike other collaborations, there are no public online copies of a memorandum of understanding (“MOU”) with the VA. The board minutes have referenced MOUs with PCC and the local school board for dual enrollment. There’s an online copy of a MOU between PCC and their peace officer association.

What’s slowing up the VA community outpatient clinic project? Just asking.

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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. Follow her on Instagram @realanitabrenner, Facebook and on Twitter @anitabrenner.


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