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New Nunziato VA Clinic ready for service Wednesday

Bert Pavlicko of Struthers, who served in the Navy from 1950 to 1954 during the Korean War, walks Monday from the new Carl A. Nunziato Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic at 1815 Belmont Ave. in Youngstown. The new facility will open Wednesday. Pavlicko learned when he got there that the new facility was not yet open. Staff photo / Ed Runyan

YOUNGSTOWN — The new, larger and renamed Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic will open Wednesday, about a half-mile from its current location.

The Carl A. Nunziato VA Clinic, named for the local decorated Vietnam War veteran, is located at 1815 Belmont Ave.

The new building, on 4.28 acres of property, has about 35,000 square feet while the current clinic, at 2031 Belmont Ave., has about 25,000 square feet.

Nunziato calls the naming of the clinic “the greatest honor there is.”

The VA announced in July 2019 that it had signed a $24.74 million, 20-year agreement for the new clinic. Construction started a few months later.

“It has been a long road to get here, but I am pleased we are finally cutting the ribbon on the new Youngstown VA clinic,” said U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Howland, who backed the new building and sponsored legislation to get it named for Nunziato.

The Youngstown clinic is one of 18 VA locations in Northeast Ohio.

Moving into the larger space will enhance the primary, mental health and specialty care to more than 10,500 veterans served each year at the clinic, according to the VA. The clinic employs 94.

The new facility also has an on-site pharmacy, an optometrist, a laboratory and spaces for physical therapy and radiology.

The new location will allow the VA to implement its “Patient Aligned Care Team” model that has patients receive specialized care from a team of a primary care provider, nurse care manager, clinical associate and administrative clerk. The model ensures more personalized and team-based care with a focus on wellness and disease prevention.

Before the current clinic opened in 1991, Nunziato said the VA would send a nurse to Youngstown to see veterans in need of medical care, but it was literally a Band-Aid approach to treatment, and patients had to go to other VA facilities — the closest ones in Cleveland and Butler, Pa. — for actual treatment.

“I am incredibly proud that in the midst of all that has gone on nationally, Congress was able to put its differences aside to recognize a true American hero, Carl Nunziato, by naming the Youngstown clinic after him,” Ryan said. “The naming of this clinic is a small measure in comparison to what he has accomplished on behalf of our country’s heroes and for those with disabilities.”

Nunziato lost both legs in 1966 while in Operation Adelborough during which about 10,000 soldiers conducted a 10-week sweep into a war zone between Saigon and the Cambodian border. After pushing the enemy out of the region at the end of the operation, Nunziato ran across a field to get to an armored personnel carrier when a mortar shell blew up about 2 feet from him. That resulted in the amputation of both legs.

When he returned home, he studied law and earned his degree in 1971 from the Case Western Reserve University School of Law.

He was instrumental in getting the current clinic and the new, larger facility built.

Nunziato has also been involved in making sure buildings in the area are accessible to those with wheelchairs and in May 2018, the Veterans Resource Center at 633 Wick Ave. was named for him.

dskolnick@tribtoday.com

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