February 12, 2009


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Lake Nona Is Site Of New VA Hospital

POSTED: Friday, March 2, 2007
UPDATED: 11:42 am EST March 2, 2007

Lake Nona will be announced as the site of the new medical center the Department of Veterans Affairs, according to a Florida Today report.

U.S. Reps. Tom Feeney, R-Oviedo, and Ric Keller, R-Orlando, and other members of Florida's Congressional delegation were expected to be at a press conference concerning the site at Orlando International Airport.

"It is time to celebrate in Central Florida," Feeney said in a statement. "Orlando, the largest metropolitan area in the country not serviced by a VA medical center, will finally have a facility at Lake Nona. Our growing veterans' population will at last have appropriate access to vital health care services.

"Today's announcement is a victory for veterans and our community. This new facility will provide veterans with a better quality of life and cut down on the cost to service organizations.

"The Lake Nona site is destined to make Orlando a world-class medical center of the future. The VA hospital, Burnham Institute, and UCF Medical School create a stunning trifecta that will be valuable to everyone involved in this spectacular research environment." said Feeney.

The House Veterans Affairs Committee approved legislation authorizing $377.7 million for the proposed 134-bed medical center that would serve veterans in a 10-county area, including Brevard.

Barry Stanley, a spokesman for Veterans Affairs in the Orange and Brevard County regions, said construction of the veterans hospital would alleviate the burden for veterans and their families of having to travel to Tampa for surgery or inpatient medical procedures.

The new VA facility also would include a 118-bed nursing home and an outpatient clinic.

If construction started in 2008, the hospital could be completed in three years, according to the VA.

About 20,000 Brevard County veterans are treated annually at the Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic in Viera. If the Orlando hospital opens, many of these patients will be able to seek more advanced medical care closer to home, officials said.

The medical center would offer most health care services, except open-heart surgery, neurosurgery and transplants.

An estimated 400,000 veterans live in Central Florida -- the largest concentration of vets without a major VA hospital in the country, according to lawmakers.

Local veterans and health care officials said building a VA hospital on the east side of Orlando was the next best thing to having it in Brevard County.

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