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Montana VA Health Care System broke ground Friday for a new 53,000-square-foot David J. Thatcher VA Clinic in Missoula, which is expected to

From Staff Reports
Published 3:13 p.m. MT July 10, 2020

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Montana VA Health Care System broke ground Friday for a new 53,000-square-foot David J. Thatcher VA Clinic in Missoula, which is expected to be completed in the winter of 2021.

The new facility, at 3885 W. Broadway, will be a state-of-the-art clinic on eight acres and designed around the VA’s integrated Patient Aligned Care Team (PACT) model, officials said. In that model, veterans remain in a single room and providers come to them in a “one stop shop” approach.

VA officials said Friday they will lease the building but invest $9 million into furnishing it for use. 

This model integrates and coordinates care with additional clinical services, such as social workers, dietitians, pharmacists, mental health practitioners, and others, officials said. It also helps with quicker decisions by streamlining communications, and brings care and service support directly to the veteran. Officials said it also promotes flexible care. 

Montana VA Health Care System’s Director Dr. Judy Hayman said Montana’s veterans deserve access to the best health care the country can offer.

“The new David J. Thatcher VA Clinic will deliver Veteran-centric care in the largest MTVAHCS clinic in northwestern Montana,” she said in a news release.

Republican Sen. Steve Daines and Democratic Sen. Jon Tester attended the event.

“For far too long, veterans in Western Montana had to make do with an undersized clinic and overworked staff—but no more,” Tester said in an email. “This new facility will provide health care to many of Montana’s 47,000 veterans who use VA services, and give doctors, nurses, and other medical staff an expanded and high-quality space to do their jobs—and I was thrilled to help jump-start it in the Senate.”

Tester said the new facility is part of his bipartisan VA Choice and Quality Employment Act of 2017, which he said was aimed to expand the VA to better serve veterans. 

Daines said it was nice to see the final result.

“It takes both sides of the aisle to get an outcome like this …” he said, thanking veterans for their sacrifice.

He said Thatcher is a truly a shining example of what is means to live out values of service.  

“His extraordinary legacy of service must never be forgotten,” Daines said, adding it could live on by honoring and respecting the veterans receiving care at the new facility.

The new facility will be easy to access from the interstate, officials said, is located on a bus line, and will have increased parking (about 260 parking spots with 44 handicap accessible parking spots).

The current David J. Thatcher VA Clinic at 2687 Palmer St., will continue to serve veterans until the new clinic opens, officials said.

Thatcher was a Missoula resident and Montana native and U.S. Army Air Corps veteran.  Following the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Thatcher volunteered to serve as a tail-gunner for a high-risk mission deep within Japanese-controlled territory.  This counterattack would be known as the Doolittle Raid. After finishing the bombing mission and running low on fuel, his aircraft crash-landed near the coast of China. 

Thatcher was instrumental in helping the crew reach safety following the crash. He was awarded the Silver Star.

After the war, he worked for the U.S. Postal Service and married his sweetheart, Dawn. He died in June 2016 at age 94. Dawn Thatcher passed away in May. 

The MTVAHCS serves more 47,000 veterans across Montana and has a staff of nearly 1,200 at 17 sites statewide.  

For more information, visit the MTVAHCS website and contact Public Affairs Officer Katie Beall at Catherine.beall@va.gov, 447-7303 or (406) 202-6082.

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