For thousands of veterans, getting the healthcare they need means traveling hundreds of miles away, which results in many not seeing a doctor for years. That's why the Clarksburg VA Hospital set out on a mission to go "mobile" and bring its services to veterans' backyards.
More than 150,000 veterans live in the state of West Virginia, so the Clarksburg VA Medical Center is doing its part to get to as many as it can: by hitting the road with its rural mobile unit.
"It's just great to know that somebody is looking out for us," said Marvin Beall, who served as a corporal in the military police during the Korean War.
Beall's healthcare is taken care of by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, but getting to his appointments wasn't always the easiest task - until a few years ago.
"I was going to the hospital in Clarksburg. Then, they told me they had a bus coming out here that would be a lot closer," said Beall.
"We actually have five full-time sites that we go to." "We go to Spencer every Tuesday, we alternate on Wednesday between here and Sistersville, and Thursdays we alternate between Buckhannon and Elkins," said Denise Davis, RN.
"Forty minutes and I can be here," said Beall.
The mobile unit is a scheduled primary care clinic, offering lab draws, nursing care follow-ups, EKGs, flu shots, blood pressure checkups, joint injections, diabetic education, and more. X-Ray services are not available.
"We are the only mobile unit in the country that's trained for female veterans," said Davis.
Davis has been the registered nurse on the unit for more than a year. She said leaving an office job was one of the best decisions she's ever made because she gets to go out and meet new heroes every day.
"A lot of the World War II veterans we get to see, which is really great. Those that maybe don't have a ride to get in or maybe can't drive," said Davis. "A veteran who came up, maybe about four months ago, down in Spencer, had not been followed with healthcare, came up, knocked on the door and thanked me. I said, 'Why are you thanking me?' He said, 'You encouraged me to do the stool card for colorectal cancer screenings.' And it came back positive. And he was able to go through and get surgery and get surgery and treatment. It saved his life."
For Beall, it's about more than just his physical health. He's made some lifelong friendships along the way and is just enjoying the ride.
"He really is a nice doctor. And the nurses in here are really nice, tease me all the time, but that's what makes the day go through," said Beall.
The Rural Mobile Unit schedule is as follows:
Spencer, WV National Guard Armory Tuesdays 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
New Martinsville American Legion Post 28 340 North Main Street First and Third Wednesday 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Sistersville, WV VFW Post 504 Diamond Street Second and Fourth Wednesday 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Buckhannon, WV Upshur Senior Center 28 North Kanawha Street First and Third Thursday 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Elkins, WV Army National Guard Armory Second and Fourth Thursday 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
To schedule an appointment, call 1-800-733-0512 ext. 7676.
904 West Pike Street
Clarksburg, WV 26301
Main (304) 623-3311
Fax (304) 624-6152(Clarksburg)
Fax (304) 225-2522(Morgantown)