Senator Clinton Welcomes VA Announcement of Plans for Development and Modernization of Canandaigua VA Hospital
Today's Action Follows Senator Clinton's Continued Calls for VA Secretary to Consider Concerns of Local Veterans
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton today welcomed an announcement by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that they will be making several major enhancements at the Canandaigua VA Medical Center, to reflect Business Plan Option 9 of the VA CARES recommendations for the facility, which will include new construction and renovation, the opening of a national suicide prevention hot line center and the facility's designation as a "Mental Health Center of Excellence." Earlier this month, Senator Clinton had written again to the VA Secretary, urging him to fully consider the preference of many community stakeholders for Business Plan Option 9 over Business Plan Options 2 and 7. The Senator received a response from Secretary Nicholson today, confirming the VA's decision to proceed with Business Plan Option 9.
"This is indeed a sweet victory for our veterans and for the future of the VA facility. The VA's decision is a testament to the resolve and determination of the entire community to support our veterans. They worked tirelessly to stop the VA's original plans from going forward and they should be proud of what they have achieved. But this is not only a victory for the veterans, it is also a victory for the entire community, which will continue to have the benefit of this wonderful facility right in the middle of the Finger Lakes," Senator Clinton said. "I am proud to have been able to stand shoulder to shoulder with the veterans and the community to ensure that their voices were heard and I am pleased that the VA has finally listened."
According to the announcement by the VA, they will develop modernization plans for the Canandaigua campus that include construction of a new single-floor 120-bed nursing home, a new 50-bed residential rehabilitation facility and a renovated outpatient building to meet the current and anticipated needs of Finger Lakes area veterans. According to the VA, the new facilities will be designed to preserve the historic core of the campus by renovating buildings in one of the historic courtyards to retain the ambiance of the 171-acre campus. VA will also explore partnerships with the private sector to generate revenue and complementary services for veterans by leasing under-used buildings and land at Canandaigua.
The VA also announced that Canandaigua is being designed as a "VA Mental Health Center of Excellence," working in collaboration with the department of psychiatry at the University of Rochester. In this capacity, the facility will oversee a broad range of efforts -- locally, regionally and nationally -- to improve mental health care for veterans. As a Center of Excellence, the facility will focus on suicide prevention, post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health issues.
According to the VA, plans for the Canandaigua VA Medical Center will be integrated into the Secretary's nationwide capital plan so that a timetable and budget can be established, followed by congressional consideration for authorization and funding. As VA develops construction plans for the future of the facility, the Department will examine the potential use of portions of the 171-acre campus to assist in the delivery of other complementary services for veterans.
Senator Clinton first called for a permanent community advisory panel during her testimony at the final Canandaigua CARES meeting on April 10th.
Senator Clinton has fought for New York's veterans throughout the CARES process. She has repeatedly called on and met with former VA Secretary Anthony Principi as well as current VA Secretary Nicholson to reiterate her serious concerns regarding the VA CARES initiative and the process by which the VA decided to make changes in New York's VA facilities.