Humana, a health insurance giant out of Kentucky, wants to operate an outpatient clinic for veterans in Schenectady.
The proposed clinic would be at 1650 Eastern Parkway, a vacant building in the Price Chopper plaza that was previously occupied by EZ Own Rentals up until 2010. Clark Trading Corporation, a subsidiary of Price Chopper parent company Golub Corp., owns the building and last month submitted an application on behalf of Humana to the City Planning Commission that will be reviewed Wednesday.
The clinic would be contingent on a contract being awarded by the U.S. Veterans Administration as expected later this month. The Albany Stratton VA Medical Center oversees the operation of outpatient clinics for veterans in the region, as far north as Canada and as far south as Kingston. This includes clinics in Fonda, Clifton Park, Troy, Glens Falls and one in Schenectady’s Sheridan Plaza.
It would be unusual for Schenectady to have two veterans’ clinics, said Peter Potter, director of public affairs at Albany Stratton VA Medical Center.
“We would never have two in the same area,” he said. “That would be a waste of taxpayer dollars. But there are cases where we may look for a bigger facility as a contract expires.”
Potter couldn’t confirm whether Humana had submitted a bid to operate a clinic in Schenectady or whether the existing Schenectady clinic’s contract is up. He could not identify the operator of the current clinic, except to say that it is not Humana.
“I would never be able to comment on folks that are trying to operate a clinic,” he said. “It could infringe on the fairness of the bid process.”
VA contracts typically last for one year with the option for five possible extensions, Potter said. They used to last for five years, he said, but the shorter contracts offer more flexibility if an existing space falls out of code or doesn’t accommodate the local veteran population as best it could. This is what happened with Schenectady’s clinic in 2003. It had previously operated out of space on Balltown Road in Niskayuna, but relocated to Sheridan Plaza to accommodate up to 4,000 visits a year by 1,800 veterans, many of whom relied on public transportation. The new site was bigger and on a city bus line.
Humana officials did not return calls or emails seeking comment Monday, so it’s unclear whether they’re hoping to land a VA contract that would relocate the existing clinic to Eastern Parkway.
The Eastern Parkway application that goes before the City Planning Commission on Wednesday is proposing a fit-up of the interior and improvements to the building’s exterior, including any needed repairs and a new paint job.
The clinic would employ 12 people and operate from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. A floor plan shows administrative offices, lab space, exam rooms and a waiting area.
Humana operates nearly 30 community-based outpatient clinics across the country, including two in New York, through its subsidiaries Valor Healthcare and Ambulatory Care Solutions. Valor Healthcare is the only contracted provider of community-based outpatient clinics to receive The Joint Commission’s blanket accreditation for all its facilities, according to its website. Once a contract is awarded, these facilities can be up and running in 90 days.