U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs visits Panama City V.A. Clinic

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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB)–Our frontline workers continue to keep our community safe amid COVID-19, especially our Veteran population. The United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Robert Wilkie, paid a visit to the Panama City V.A. clinic Wednesday afternoon.

Staff at the clinic welcomed Wilkie to their site, saying his visit was monumental.

“Having him come down here and giving us some coins, and just meet us and talk to us, it just means the world,” said Darrel Roderique, the Section Chief of Out-Patient Scheduling.

Wilkie took a tour of the facility and spoke with staff, congratulating them for all of their hard work within the Veteran community.

“They have the highest patient satisfaction rate of any facility in the VA. It sits at 100%. There’s no other institution in the country that comes close,” said Robert Wilkie, the United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

The clinic says they wouldn’t be able to make such great strides without the community’s support.

“It is our employees and the relationships they have with our Veterans. This size facility allows for our employees to get to know our Veterans on a personal level,” said Bryan Matthews, the center’s Medical Center Director.

As the country continues to battle COVID-19, Wilkie says Veterans face many obstacles, including being vulnerable due to old age.

“We have had 63,000 Veterans who have contracted COVID, of those 63,000, 54,000 have recovered,” said Wilkie.

While touring the facility, Wilkie said he believes Panama City can serve as a model for other regions.

“The reason that this is helping us for the future is that this is the one of the fastest if not the fastest region in the country for Veterans,” said Wilkie.

The V.A. clinic says they were most excited to show off their dental clinic. They said it’s a partnership with the Department of Defense that they’re very proud of.

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