The staff was well coordinated and kept the patients moving into the clinic area from the waiting room in a very cordial and efficient manner. Help was available for those who needed assistance. The people in the lobby were waiting in comfortable seating, and had a well-lighted open area that was not at all like some of the waiting areas I have seen in the past. The design of this area is more like being in the lobby of a hotel rather than a clinic.
Now that it is open, one question seems to be on the minds of a lot of veterans: “I have not received a letter from the VA changing me over to, or assigning me to the clinic in Carrollton yet, why not?”
I can answer that first-hand from an official source. Gary Bruton, the clinic administrator, has been mailing these letters, but has to limit the number going out so as not to over extend the service capability of the clinic at this time. Veterans will be notified by letter in groupings that will allow the staff to provide timely service and treatment to them when they arrive. The clinic is open for business, but is not fully staffed to a level that would adequately handle the surge of patients if all were to be given the green light to begin at one time.
Eventually everyone will be notified and able to use this facility, but it will not be overnight. If you are one of those waiting for notification, sit tight, you will receive your letter in the near future.
We were told that the Georgia Department of Veterans Service would have a full-time representative available in an office at the clinic instead of a part-time office in one of the county buildings. The former office has been closed and moved to the clinic as promised. A full-time representative has been located there and he is setting up for business now. For those of you who will be needing help, his name is Fred Daniels, and he is going to become one of your best friends. He spent 22 years in the Navy, and has been with the Department of Veterans Service for several years. He knows his way around and is very willing to get the job done when you need help.
Fred will be in his office Monday through Friday. It will be a few more days until he gets settled into his office and has phone and computer access ready, but he is looking forward to helping his fellow veterans. As soon as his phone number and email address is available, I will include it in a column.
Both Gary and Fred are veterans, as is most of the staff there. Gary commented that this gives the staff a better working relationship with the patients because both the staff and the patients have walked in some of the same steps along the way and share that experience. Gary made it very clear that customer service is very critical to the operation of the clinic, and he intends to keep the level high. I think we have a winner here.
Another topic that goes hand-in-hand here is transportation for those who need help in getting to the clinic. This has not been forgotten and is being worked on now. I will pass any information along as it becomes available.
Dale Robinson is a Carroll County resident, a Vietnam veteran and member of American Legion Post 143. He writes a weekly column about veterans issues for the Times-Georgian.