SoJo, U of U to bring VA clinic to Daybreak ‘to better meet’ vet health care needs
Jun 04, 2019 03:58PM
● By Jennifer J Johnson
The University of Utah’s South Jordan Clinic, established in 2011, will be co-located with and build synergy with a new Veterans Administration Clinic. Groundbreaking is set for sometime in 2019. (Photo Credit: University of Utah Health)
By Jennifer J. Johnson | [email protected]
Late last month, the Veterans Administration Salt Lake City Health Care System and University of Utah Health announced a partnership for veteran needs. Specifically, the two entities announced plans for a VA Health Clinic, to be co-located on the UofU’s South Jordan Health Center in Daybreak.
A groundbreaking is scheduled for some time in 2019.
South Jordan resident and veteran John Jensen, while indicating he has not yet tapped the VA medical resources for his own medical care, is pleased with the decision to add a VA Clinic in South Jordan.
“I think it would be nice to have one closer than having to go up to the University of Utah,” he said, critiquing the George E. Wahlen Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center (the VA Hospital) at the U of U campus for being “so crowded, with so much traffic, and having it be hard to find a parking place.”
VA and U of U synergy extends to South Valley
The synergy between the VA and the U of U is clear. Both have partnered at the U of U Campus to serve the health care needs of veterans since the conclusion of World War II in 1946.
The selection of the SoJo facility makes strategic sense, with the UofU’s having the SoJo Health Center established, proximate to TRAX, since November 2011.
What SoJo Mayor Dawn Ramsey has deemed “significant growth” at the U of U Health facility is set to include a call center, which will handle University of Utah and University Health Care calls, according to the U of U South Jordan Clinic.
It remains to be seen if this infrastructure will be leveraged for the forthcoming VA clinic but seems to make logical sense.
Southwest Quadrant in general, SoJo in specific deemed ‘prime location’ for Vet care
In committing to new facilities in South Jordan, the partners also gave a nod to what some have deemed “explosive” population growth in the Southwest Quadrant.
“[The] VA identified the rapidly growing southwest part of Salt Lake County as [a] prime location to provide more access to health care for the women and men who serve in our nation’s military,” reads a joint press release.
More than 5,000 new residents move to South Jordan annually. This growth is projected to continue for the next 10 years.
Since 2000, 70 percent of the population growth of Salt Lake County has come from the Southwest Quadrant, comprising Bluffdale, Copperton Township, Herriman, Riverton, South Jordan and West Jordan.
SoJo veteran-friendly community
SoJo is a veteran-friendly community, offering an annual Veteran’s lunch (scheduled this coming Nov. 7), which “for the past three–four years has attracted 80 to 100 veterans each year,” indicated Jamie Culbertson, South Jordan Community Center supervisor.
At her annual “State of the City” speech in March of this year, Ramsey cited the city’s first hosting of a Veterans Day Breakfast as among the City’s “major events and achievements” of 2018 and indicated that this is a tradition she wants to build.
“We held our first Veterans Appreciation Breakfast, with more than 100 veterans and their family members attending,” she said. “It was a wonderful event that I hope becomes a long-standing tradition in our city.”
A vet’s continual war with mental health
Seventy-two-year-old Roger Anderson routinely wakes from night terrors.
The Vietnam veteran who served as a medic nearly 50 years ago says he is still traumatized by Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and routinely makes the 2 ½-hour journey from Oak City in Millard County to the VA Hospital on the U of U campus.
In lieu of driving, Anderson joins a VA-sponsored shuttle, serving individuals he says he has met from across the state, as well as those from Arizona, Idaho, Nevada and Wyoming.
Anderson, a former medic himself, praises the quality of care at Salt Lake’s VA Hospital but is frustrated by wait times and “a bureaucracy that has destroyed our lives,” he shared with the South Jordan Journal in a phone interview.
He hopes that the announcement for the new VA Clinic, to be located on the campus of the U of U South Jordan Health Center in Daybreak, will not only provide excellent medical care to veterans in the Southwest Quadrant but to those living farther South in the state and those veterans having to come to Utah from other states for the care they need.
Ready now for SoJo facility to be ready
“They desperately need to meet the needs of more of the vets, especially the ones who are coming home now — they are experiencing an awful lot of PTSD,” Anderson said.
“The VA Hospital at the U of U is way too busy; it is overcrowded,” he added. “It is a good hospital. They do a good job. For some disciplines, they offer the best services in the country. They try really hard to schedule better, but the waits can be quite bad. South Jordan would be a lot better place to get to.”