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Lawmakers press VA to keep clinic open

Western New York's congressional delegation is pressing the Department of Veterans Affairs to keep open the VA Warsaw Community Based Outpatient Clinic in Wyoming County.

The lawmakers wrote a letter Friday to the VA about the matter, a week after the agency announced plans to close the facility and consolidate its operations in Batavia.

"At a time when I am working to provide greater access to primary care for veterans living in rural communities, I am concerned that the VA has decided to close a clinic for those veterans," said Rep. Kathleen C. Hochul, D-Amherst.

"I would ask for more transparency in this decision, especially the cost savings attached to this closing, and any health considerations given to forcing these veterans to travel over twenty miles for primary care," Hochul added.

In a letter to Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, Hochul and the other lawmakers said the closing would have a negative impact on veterans care in return for minimal cost savings.

"Closing this clinic would place a hardship on brave men and women who have served their country with honor and distinction, and is no way to repay them for their service," said Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y.

Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand, D-N.Y., agreed.

"Western New York's veterans rely on this clinic, and we can't afford to lose it," she said.

Under the VA announcement, the Warsaw Clinic is set to close on March 2. The agency said it would run a shuttle service five days a week between Warsaw and the veterans hospital in Batavia in place of the clinic.

The VA does not plan to cut any staff because of this move, which will minimize the cost savings, the lawmakers said in their letter.

The facility served nearly 900 veterans last year.