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VA town hall asks residents what services need to be developed in Lake Havasu City

January 9, 2019

Lake Havasu City has more than 11,000 residents who served in the U.S. armed forces, and those residents’ input could be crucial in allowing the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to provide adequate care to the region’s veterans.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Northern Arizona Health Care System hosted a town hall meeting for Lake Havasu City veterans Tuesday afternoon to address issues and concerns as the agency plans to expand those services in Havasu.

According to Northern Arizona VA Medical Center Director Barbara Oencke, the agency would like to know what services could be offered or expanded in Havasu, to prevent the city’s veterans from having to travel to the VA’s facility in Prescott to seek care.

“We want to know what services we could develop here, or what services could be purchased here,” Oencke said. “You shouldn’t have to drive all the way to Prescott to get X-rays or other services.”

The agency’s first priority is customer service, Oencke said, and the VA is attempting to streamline its phone services and availability of pharmaceutical technicians to better aid Havasu residents. The agency will be implementing a new medical record system for more efficient and personalized medical service, Oencke said.

According to Oencke, however, staffing rural VA facilities such as Havasu’s will have its challenges. In such a remote setting, she said, the agency has had a difficult time attracting and retaining qualified professionals as older workers begin to retire from the VA’s ranks.

As the agency slowly overcomes any potential staffing issues, however, the agency is planning to renovate and expand its Havasu facility based on what size and services will be required by Havasu veterans.

Veterans who would like to offer comment or who have questions for VA officials can contact the agency’s Northern Arizona office at 1-844-698-2311.

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