Stabenow visits Iron Mountain VA

IRON MOUNTAIN – U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., stopped by the Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center in Iron Mountain on Monday as part of her summer tour through the Upper Peninsula.

Director Jim Rice and other officials guided her through some of the center’s upgraded facilities and demonstrated their latest technologies. Highlights included the telehealth clinic and the new CEREC AC system in the dental clinic.

With telehealth, a patient and a physician can be at different locations, but connected through a type of video conferencing device. A telehealth technician who is at the patient’s location takes vitals, then uses equipment that allows the off-site doctor to hear the patient’s heartbeat and see inside the patient’s ears or throat.

This service is especially convenient for patients who need to see specialists that the Iron Mountain center does not offer.

In the dental clinic, staff members are making use of the new CEREC AC system, which can efficiently create a dental crown for a patient within one appointment.

Staff use a scanning camera to make a 3D digital image of a patient’s mouth, then send that information to an on-site milling unit. The unit will then cut a permanent crown in only 10 minutes.

In the past, the normal turnaround time for a permanent dental crown made off-site was about two months.

Stabenow was impressed by the technology available to improve the health of local veterans.

“Our VA hospital here in Iron Mountain is a cut above,” she said. “They’re really doing excellent work.”

Stabenow had last visited the center several years ago.

“I love to get on the road, stop in small towns, and visit some of the important facilities we have here,” she said.

Besides Iron Mountain, other cities on Stabenow’s Upper Peninsula tour included Marquette, Ironwood, and Menominee.

Nikki Younk’s e-mail address is