MALONE — The Malone veterans clinic got a six-month reprieve and will not close as scheduled on Aug. 31.
The new target date is Feb. 28, 2014, giving officials at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs time to look at their reasons for deciding to shut down the Cedar Commons clinic, leaving 700 veterans to find care at another VA site.
The decision was announced in May by Linda Weiss, director of Stratton VA Medical Center in Albany, who stated the number of veterans has dropped by nearly 20 percent in New York and that the Community-Based Outpatient Clinic here wasn’t seeing enough people.
She said the Malone facility also has limited space, privacy and infrastructure to provide the services the VA wanted.
But Weiss announced late Thursday that the clinic would remain open until the end of February.
“It’s good, but it’s not what we ultimately want,” said Judy Shanty of Malone.
She and her husband, Don, are behind the petition campaign that has generated signatures from almost 1,000 people so far.
“I sent them to everyone,” she said of the petitions, including Franklin County legislators, Assemblywoman Janet Duprey (R-Peru), Sen. Betty Little (R-Queensbury), State Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and State Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).
“Who I didn’t send to was Linda Weiss at the VA, but we’ll get her her share, too,” said Shanty, who is a registered nurse and veteran of the Women’s Army Corps.
Her husband is a Vietnam veteran.
“We are both patients at the clinic and use the services provided there, so we, along with all the other veterans, are appalled that they are closing the clinic.
“This is an impoverished area, and people live sometimes week to week or month to month,” she said. “To have to drive to Plattsburgh for a medical appointment, people can’t afford that.”