- The Department of Veterans Affairs has chosen a 35-acre site east of downtown Louisville, KY, for a new $925 million, 104-bed hospital. The VA anticipates design will be complete in 2018, but a construction timeline has yet to be finalized, the Bowling Green Daily News reported.
- In response to resident concerns about increased traffic congestion, the VA has said it is vying for transportation upgrades, such as widening roads around the development.
- The hospital serves 35 counties in Kentucky, in addition to residents in southern Indiana. The finished project, which still must secure Congress' approval to fund its construction, will replace the Robley Rex VA Medical Center, which opened in the 1950s.
With 170 medical centers and 1,063 outpatient sites, the VA is the largest integrated healthcare provider in the U.S. And although the number of living veterans is declining, the number of veterans using VA healthcare is increasing, thanks to less stringent eligibility requirements and more young veterans relying on the VA as their sole healthcare provider.
The VA, however, faces an aging infrastructure that struggles to keep pace with the number of veterans in the system. In September 2015, U.S. Medicine reported that more than half of VA facilities were older than 60 years old. More still, the report found that some facilities had operating rooms so outdated that modern technology and equipment couldn't fit inside.
Like the proposed Kentucky hospital, which has now been talked about for three presidencies, the process to build a new VA facility can be arduous. An Aurora, CO, VA hospital started planning in 2011 and today still is not complete, despite projections saying it would be finished in 2014. Not only will it not be finished before January, but the hospital will cost nearly $1.7 billion — nearly three times its original estimated price tag of $604 million.
Sometimes the process goes well, though, as is the case with the Butler, PA, Health Care Center. It received congressional approval in November 2009 and last month opened its doors six months ahead of schedule. The 168,000-square-foot, two-story facility is LEED Silver certified and replaces a 1938 structure originally built as a tuberculosis sanitarium.