Two Clinics To Open On Naval Base

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PANAMA CITY-- The Florida Panhandle has one of the highest concentrations of veterans in the United States.

But the nearest veterans' hospital is in Boloxi, Mississippi.

The Department of Veterans Affairs is partnering with the U.S. Navy to build two new medical clinics at Naval Support Activity Panama City.

Cadence, the sound heard all around the Panama City Navy base all year long.

But this month, the noise of new construction can be heard.

"We partner with the VA to build facilities in which we can work together," Jose Negron, Clinic Director, said.

Negron is talking about two clinics on one campus that will be shared by the Navy and Department of Veterans Affairs.

Billy W. Jarrett Construction has already started on the project located near the Tom Thumb on Magnolia Beach Road.

The two clinics combined are going to be more than 35,000 square feet.

One is a roughly 30,000 square feet community based outpatient clinic for the Gulf Coast VA and the other is a roughly 5,300 square foot Naval Branch Health Clinic for the Navy.

Negron says their current facility was built in 1957. They need a more modern and safe environment for their patients.

The two facilities combined will cost more than $10 million.

Pamela Stockinger is one of the hundreds of Panama City Navy family relatives who are excited for the new facilities.

"The new clinic is going to be a great asset to our area, we have tons, and tons of veterans," Stockinger said.

Officials say the current VA facility employs 59 people and serves more than 5,500 veterans, but the VA expects a 28 percent increase in veteran enrollment in the Florida Panhandle within 10 years.

"From the population growth that we expect over the next 10 years, specifically for veterans in Panama City, Bay County area. We're just going to have to have a new clinic to serve those veterans and provide health care benefit that they earn and deserve."

The Naval Branch Health Clinic will provide care to more than 1,400 Tricare beneficiaries, as well as occupational health care to more than 2,200 civilian employees who work at the Naval Support Activity Panama City.

The construction is scheduled to last about a year. The groundbreaking ceremony will be held on August 7, at 9 a.m.