The VA clinic in Beaumont, Texas took a beating during Tropical Depression Imelda in September of 2019, putting the building out-of-commission. Now, six months later, the Beaumont VA is still operating out of tents in the building’s parking lot, leaving veterans to wonder: what’s taking so long?
The tents, while heated and cooled, still leave veterans feeling exposed to the elements and offer little privacy. Wheelchair-bound veterans have to be retrieved from their vehicles by VA staff, and patients and staff oftentimes must travel from tent to tent using only umbrellas to protect themselves from the weather. Mobile medical units and even equipment from other states are being used in addition to the tents, but veterans still feel as if they are being denied the quality of care they deserve.
Dan, an Air Force veteran who frequents the clinic, says the tent-situation has affected scheduling and the quality of care.
“It’ll start getting hot here pretty soon. It rains on them. It’s kind of overdue. You have old folks coming. It could be better for them.”
“It’s been challenging [to get back in the building]” said Eric Brode, a Supervisory Medical Support Assistant at the Beaumont VA.
“Really we’re doing everything we did in the building except for the services that require equipment,” Brode said to KFDM 6 News.
“What if someone has a mental health issue?” added Dan. “They need privacy. We all do when it comes to health. And they’re coming in here already feeling bad… you have to think about that aspect of the deal.”
The building, which had to be rebuilt from two feet underground, is partially finished, but is not yet ready for the VA to move back in. It is not entirely clear why the project has taken so much time.
“They’ve done the drywall, the tape, the float, they’re finishing up on the paint. The construction phase… we’re shooting for [it to be finished] mid-April,” Brode added.