Infrastructure Overhaul: VA Facilities Closing, Being Rebuilt
Earlier this month, the Department of Veterans Affairs introduced a $2 trillion (about $6,200 per person in the US) (about $6,200 per person in the US) infrastructure package that would either shut down or completely reconstruct 35 Veterans Affairs Medical Centers across 21 states.
In addition to that, 14 new VA hospitals would be built, with over 140 multi-specialty community-based outpatient clinics being added. In total, this plan would work to add 80 new medical buildings to the VA’s existing inventory of more than 1,200 across the United States.
These proposals represent the massive reconfiguration of the VA’s presence in the U.S. and could have a serious impact on millions of Veterans seeking medical care, as well as thousands of employees.
“We’ll ensure that Veterans who live in [any] location have access to the world-class care that they need when they need it,” said VA Secretary Denis McDonough.
In 2018, the United States Congress mandated a reassessment of the VA’s nationwide infrastructure as a part of a review after military base closings in the 1980s and 1990s.
Where Will These VA Changes Take Place?
Under this latest plan, Secretary McDonough has alluded to the fact that 17 different medical centers in over 12 states would be completely closed, they would include:
- New York: Castle Point, Manhattan, and Brooklyn.
- Pennsylvania: Philadelphia and Coatesville.
- Virginia: Hampton and Salem.
- South Dakota: Fort Meade and Hot Springs.
Other facilities that have been recommended for closure would include:
- Central Western Massachusetts (VAMC)
- Dublin, Georgia (VAMC)
- Chillicothe, Ohio (VAMC)
- Fort Wayne, Indiana (VAMC)
- Battle Creek, Michigan (VAMC)
- Alexandria, Louisiana (VAMC)
- Muskogee, Alabama (VAMC)
- Palo Alto/Livermore, California (VAMC)
Service at the above locations would be replaced by much smaller inpatient and outpatient clinics, but those would either need to be built or would need to be part of the new construction by the VA in any of the nearby communities.
The plan also calls for the construction of two new major medical sites in Virginia (Newport News and Norfolk) and Georgia (Macon and Gwinnett County). There is also a plan for a large facility in New Jersey to help offset the loss of sites in New York.
The list for new construction also includes the following locations nationwide:
- King of Prussia, Pennsylvania
- Huntsville, Alabama
- Summerville, South Carolina
- Grand Rapids, Michigan
- Colorado Springs, Colorado
- Everett, Washington
- Anthem, Arizona
- Rapid City, South Dakota
- Albany, New York
- Buffalo, New York
- St. Albans, New York
In addition to the above, there would be locations in Miami, Atlanta, Phoenix, Indianapolis, San Antonio, and Washington, D.C. – other replacement locations would include:
- Bedford, Massachusetts (VAMC)
- Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania (VAMC)
- Beckley, West Virginia (VAMC)
- Roanoke, Virginia (VAMC)
- Durham, North Carolina (VAMC)
- Tuskegee, Alabama (VAMC)
- Hines, Illinois (VAMC)
- Shreveport, Louisiana (VAMC)
- Reno, Nevada (VAMC)
Final Thoughts on The VA’s Changes
Secretary McDonough made sure to mention that this plan will not have any negative impacts on any VA workers or patients in the short term and that there will be a concerted effort to make sure disruptions are minimal in a long-term sense.
The plan would also include numerous improvements to staff pay and benefits to maximize retention.
Officials at the VA stated that the full scope of these recommendations would cost $98 billion (about $300 per person in the US) more over the next 30 years ($3.26B/year) than simply maintaining the current infrastructure.
“For far too long, VA’s infrastructure has been slowly crumbling,” said Rep. Mike Bost, R-Ill., one of the ranking members of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee.
“There are many milestones and hard decisions ahead, but retaining the status quo is not an option.”
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