MALONE - The Malone Veterans Affairs Clinic will now be open until the end of June.
Bonnie Stewart, deputy director of the Franklin County Veterans Service Agency, said there is a sign posted at the VA Clinic indicating the new closure date.
Im happy that its open, she said, though she noted again that these month-to-month decisions are unfair to the veterans.
I wish they would just stay open, Ms. Stewart said.
Ms. Stewart and her office only learns of the extensions when they are notified by employees of the Malone clinic.
Stratton VA Public Affairs Officer Peter Potter previously said the reason for the extensions is because all the information and data is still under review by Veterans Affairs officials in Washington, D.C.
Mr. Potter also noted that media sources as well as the veterans who currently seek medical services through the Malone VA Clinic would receive adequate notice before the facility actually closes.
The latest new closure date marks the fifth extension the clinic had received since its original closure date was scheduled for Aug. 31, 2013.
The clinic was initially granted an extension until February after U.S. Rep. Bill Owens intervened with the Veterans Administration.
Just before its February closing date, the clinic received another extension until March 31.
The March date was then extended to the end of April.
In April it was announced the clinic would stay open until the end of May; now the closure date is the end of June.
If the Malone clinic closes, local veterans will have to travel to Massena, Saranac Lake or Plattsburgh to receive treatment. All medical records will be transferred to one of the three closest clinics, depending on what the veteran prefers.
Mr. Owens had sent Stratton VA Medical Center Director Linda Weiss a letter in early February citing concerns that some veterans who transferred from the Malone clinic to ones in Plattsburgh and Massena were being placed on waiting lists to receive care. If the Malone clinic were to close, hundreds more would be forced to join them, he said.
The Malone clinic has been open since 1999. It was first located at the Alice Hyde Medical Center; it is now in the Cedar Commons plaza on U.S. Route 11.
Malones facility is considered the third most expensive clinic in the nation. The average cost of care per veteran nationwide is $4,000 per year, but at the Malone clinic the figure skyrockets to $11,000.
Mr. Potter was previously quoted saying that closing the Malone clinic would save $700,000 a year.
That money could be used to increase services such as telemedicine, telehealth and programs such as Home Based Primary Care at the other three nearby facilities, he said.