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Wilmington VA's Sussex clinic to move into new space as influx of patients continues

Delaware Public Media

The Wilmington VA Medical Center has a new home in Sussex County, which officials say should help it handle the 20 percent jump in patients it's seen in the past two years.

The VA's Community Based Outpatient Clinic will move across Route 13 in Georgetown, after outgrowing the space it had used since 2008.

The clinic provides primary care and behavioral health services to veterans where they live, says VA Medical Center director Robin Aube-Warren.

But she says the old building was mainly built for pediatric medicine, which made it a tight fit for providers and veterans, especially those in wheelchairs.

"We were very excited about being able to have a location where we could design a space that would flow much better to allow us to become more efficient," she says. "In addition, we've noticed a significant increase in the number of patients that we treat in Sussex County."

That's a 19 percent growth in the last two years, she says -- from fewer than 3,000 patients in 2013, to about 3500 now. Most of the new faces are Vietnam veterans.

"We see that a lot of people are retiring to the Sussex County area, so I think we're seeing a larger percentage of older veterans in that area as opposed to newer conflicts," Aube-Warren says.

But the Wilmington VA is also treating more patients across the state. Sussex has seen the most growth, with Dover close behind. Aube-Warren says they expect the trend to continue over at least the next decade.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story implied that the Sussex VA clinic had already begun operating in its new building. In fact, that space has not yet been completed.