MALONE - The Malone Veterans Affairs Community-based Outpatient Clinic is set to close at the end of the month, but many veterans still plan to use its services up until that last day.
Some of them [veterans] are using it right to the bitter end because they do like that clinic, Bonnie Stewart, deputy director of the Franklin County Veterans Service Agency, said. Some have already changed to Massena, Plattsburgh or Saranac Lake.
Ms. Stewart said she does not know how many veterans currently use the clinic and how many have switched. When the state decided to close the clinic in May, Ms. Stewart said it was serving 699 veterans. At its peak, it was serving 820, according to Linda Weiss, director of the Stratton VA Medical Center.
There are approximately 4,000 veterans in the county.
Some of the veterans dont use the clinic as often others and may only use it to get prescriptions filled, she said.
Ms. Stewart said the clinic –– located in the Cedar Commons plaza –– is continuing to provide all of the services it has in the past and will continue up until its proposed closing date on Feb. 28.
At that time, all records will be transferred to one of the three closest clinics depending on what a veteran prefers.
The records arent going to be a problem, Ms. Stewart said. Transportation is a bigger issue.
The only clinic accessible via public transportation from Malone is in Saranac Lake, which is served by a bus provided by the county. Veterans are on their own to get to the Plattsburgh or Massena clinics.
I have to do my best to get them into the other clinic, Ms. Stewart said.
The clinic was originally scheduled to close in August, but was granted an extension until February after U.S. Rep. Bill Owens intervened with the Veterans Administration.
Ms. Stewart said she is still approached by veterans every day who voice their dissatisfaction with the clinic closing.
I dont blame them for being sad or discouraged, she said. Im sad and discouraged. ... If I could force Albany into keeping this clinic, I would.