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Harriman mayor offers solutions to long VA wait times | News

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Harriman mayor offers solutions to long VA wait times


(WBIR-Harriman) Harriman mayor Chris Mason's offer stands on the table for the Veterans Administration: buy the old Harriman Hospital for $1.00, and turn it into a clinic.

"We're asking them to see what we got..." he said Wednesday, after Mountain Home VA Medical Center announced why they had an average wait time of 67 days for specialized patient care. They said due to a lack of space, and growth in customers in Knoxville.

"We got a solution that's here -- and the solution has been here for two years," he added.

"A large number of those patients are at the Knoxville clinic," said Mountain Home VA director Charlene Erhet. "The Knoxville clinic is very limited on space. We have shoehorned as many people as we can."

Mountain Home told 10News the VA in Washington will make decisions on future hospitals and clinics. Mason said he went to the capitol a few years ago, proposing the offer.

"The offer still stands with us," the mayor said.

The former hospital has more than 100 beds, Mason said all the utilities and electrical work still stands.

"To serve the veterans, this would serve a 12 county area that would encompass Knox County. There are 100-thousand veterans in this 12-county area," he said.

This is not the only proposal for additional VA clinics and hospitals. On Wednesday, Congressman John Duncan sent a letter to acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson about turning St. Marys Hospital in North Knoxville into a VAMC.


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