Steamboat Springs Six years ago, Andrew Seed regularly traveled 150 miles to the Veterans Affairs hospital in Grand Junction to manage his high blood pressure.
“It was a pain,” the 65-year-old Army veteran said last week on a cold, rainy day in Craig. “It was aggravating to have to go so far.”
Today, Seed's long drives to the nearest VA hospital are mostly a distant memory.
He now travels just down the road to the Major William Adams Veterans Telehealth Clinic in Craig, where he gets regular checkups from those same doctors in Grand Junction via a television screen and an attached stethoscope, otoscope and high-definition camera.
It was a little “weird” at first, Seed said about consulting with doctors via teleconference.
But he doesn't notice it now.
It can't solve everything or completely replace a hospital, but the clinic has worked other wonders for him since it opened in 2007.
A few years ago, Seed said he barely could walk to take the trash to the curb. But a fitness program at the Telehealth Clinic helped him to lose 114 lbs.
“For me, this was the right thing at the right time,” he said.
April Branstetter, a registered nurse at the clinic, said the facility offers primary care to about 500 veterans in Northwest Colorado and an additional 500 use secondary services such as blood draws.
The brochure advertising what the clinic offers is outdated now as new options have become available in the past two years.
They include services for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, pain and Hepatitis C.
The clinic also soon will offer audiology and cardiology services.
Walking through the facility last week, Branstetter said the clinic's growth along with upgrades in technology continue to reduce the number of trips veterans here have to take to the VA hospitals, the closest of which are in Denver, Grand Junction and Salt Lake City.
Back in the lobby, Seed clutched a Vietnam veterans baseball cap.
On the lapel of his blazer were a number of pins, including the one his father received when he was discharged from the Army Air Corp.
Seed has become a regular at the clinic and enjoys being there so much that he volunteers in the office, where he has met other veterans from towns and cities across Northwest Colorado including Steamboat Springs, Hayden, Meeker and Phippsburg.
“It takes a lot of pressure off of the veterans, and it takes a lot of pressure off of the VA hospital in Grand Junction,” said Mike Condie, the VA officer for Routt County.
Condie said he hopes the services continue to be expanded.
To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10
Join the Yampa Valley VIP email club