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Lawmakers push to keep MO Rehabilitation Center & VA Clinic open - KOAM TV 7

Lawmakers push to keep MO Rehabilitation Center & VA Clinic open

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    Southwest Missouri lawmakers have met with officials in an attempt to delay or prevent the closing of the Missouri rehabilitation center and VA clinic.

Citizens are hoping for a solution.

"We're gonna be praying for our community."

Members of the Lifebridge Assembly church hold a prayer walk around the Missouri Rehabilitation Center and VA clinic.  They're concerned about the impact of centers closing and the loss of three hundred plus jobs. 

Pastor John McHaffie says, "It effects people in my church, people on my block, it effects people I run into at the grocery store, other civic organizations. When you're a small town it matters a lot so we're very concerned. We love our city and we want to see it prosper."

A rally at the courthouse over the weekend drew two hundred people. Adam Stewart works in Joplin, but his wife could lose her job here.

"The possibility is we may have to move to a different location. We really don't want to. We love the community here."

 Legislators say they hope to override Governor Jay Nixon's line item  budget veto of more than $5 million dollars to the center. But MU officials say that's not the only factor in the closing.

M-U Senior Director of Professional Services says,"We've decreased from about forty patients a day down to right now about nineteen,  so that is another factor that plays into account as well as the size of our facilities and the age of our facilities." 

 "It's hard to justify three hundred twenty-four employees for nineteen patients, except when you look at the scope that they also take care of the veterans clinic."

Providing everything from radiology to restaurant services.

M-U officials say they're talking to the VA about some of the other services they offer. But those anscilancillaryces are utilized by folks who aren't veterans."

Tina Edmonds who uses M-R-C clinics says, "I have friend  who has had 4 knee replacements  i took her down here every day for therapy they take that away people can't, I  can't  drive back and forth six, eight  weeks for therapy. "

And Edmonds uses the wellness clinic herself.

MU says its willing to work with the city on possibly deeding over the center or leasing it for other uses.

And while MU contends therapy can be found elsewhere lawmakers and citizens aren't so sure.

 MO State Representative Charlie Davis says,  "If  that does close, then  where are those patients gonna go. We're gonna have to come up with another mechanism another location for them to go so that is very concerning."

MO Senator David Sater and  Davis expect the VA clinic to close when new ones are built in Springfield and Joplin.

     But they hope to get a lease approved to keep it in Mount Vernon at least til 20-17.

     Right now its lease expires October 31st.

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