Rep. Kim Schrier walks through a CT scan room with Regional Manager Susan Rushing during a visit to the new VA Puget Sound Health Care System Everett Clinic on Friday, Jan. 20, 2023, in Everett, Washington. The scanner is the first CT at any VA outpatient clinic in the region. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Rep. Kim Schrier walks through a CT scan room with Regional Manager Susan Rushing during a visit to the new VA Puget Sound Health Care System Everett Clinic on Friday, Jan. 20, 2023, in Everett, Washington. The scanner is the first CT at any VA outpatient clinic in the region. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

New VA clinic in Everett already has 5,300 patients

U.S. Rep. Kim Schrier toured the new center Friday, where veterans can get primary care and a growing list of specialty services close to home.

EVERETT — U.S. Rep. Kim Schrier visited the sparkling Veterans Affairs clinic on Friday morning, to learn more about the new services and what is still coming to the region.

“If you served our country and you put your life and your health at risk, the least we can do is provide the best health care and the best access,” said Schrier, a Democrat who represents the state’s 8th Congressional District. “And access is sometimes the struggle.”

While the 28,000-square-foot clinic in Everett officially opened for in-person services in October at 220 Olympic Blvd., the VA health system is still adding equipment, providers and services. The clinic already has 5,300 “enrolled patients” — meaning, patients who have their primary care provider on site.

Two of the 32 exam rooms are dedicated to women’s health, who make up just over 10% of enrolled patients in the broader Northwest Region.

Susan Rushing, regional manager of VA Puget Sound Health Care System, called the radiology services the “crown jewel” of the clinic, with state-of-the-art X-ray and CT machines, and an MRI coming in fiscal year 2024.

It’s important for veterans to be able to receive services close to home, without having to drive to the Seattle VA clinic for such care, said Thomas Bundt, executive director of VA Puget Sound Health Care System. The CT machine is the only one across the seven community outpatient clinics in the region.

The recently passed federal PACT Act expands access to health care for those veterans exposed to burn pits, Agent Orange and other toxic substances. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs calls it “the most significant expansion of Veteran benefits in more than three decades.” As of Dec. 29, more than 213,000 PACT-related claims for benefits had been submitted since August.

Schrier is proud that the Congress passed the PACT Act and a budget that puts hundreds of millions of dollars towards VA care and suicide prevention.

“I see that as also a great opportunity for bipartisanship,” she said.

We will continue to report on access to health care in 2023. If you have faced barriers to accessing timely, convenient or affordable care in Snohomish County, please fill out this brief form: forms.gle/DcgfccCvwqVTh6Sk7

Joy Borkholder is the health and wellness reporter for The Daily Herald. Her work is supported by the Health Reporting Initiative, which is sponsored in part by Premera Blue Cross. The Daily Herald maintains editorial control over content produced through this initiative.

Joy Borkholder: 425-339-3430; joy.borkholder@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @jlbinvestigates.

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