Tuesday, April 10, 2012

U.S. Rep Adams to VA Hospital officials: Progress 'unacceptable'

I went to the ground breaking for the Lake Nona VA hospital in 2008. Great food. A crowd of "important" people surrounded by an even larger crowd of veterans waiting for local care. The Orlando area has a VA clinic the size of a hospital but they can't take care of all the medical needs veterans have. It is not a nice ride to Tampa VA from Orlando especially when you are going for an operation and even harder for elderly veterans to make the trip. In 2008, we heard that this would be ready in 2012.

For two years we drove down 417 seeing the tent left behind from the groundbreaking. We kept wondering why this hospital was not even started. Isn't that why we all got together for the big deal ceremony? During those two years, veterans waiting and wondered why they still had to go to Tampa or struggle with the clinic parking lot being full.

For the next two years we saw progress and thought, "wow" this is going to be wonderful. Then we got news veterans would have to wait even longer. 400,000 veterans have waited for this, which sounds like a lot but they never seem to want to include the families these veterans have also waiting!

U.S. Rep Adams to VA Hospital officials: Progress 'unacceptable'
April 9, 2012
By Marni Jameson
Orlando Sentinel

Calling the slow progress on the much-delayed Orlando VA Medical Center "unacceptable," U.S. Rep. Sandy Adams, R-Orlando, chastised VA officials as she toured the construction site Monday.

Criticizing their "lack of oversight" and "lack of communication," the freshman Congresswoman, who is up for re-election this year, said, "We need to get this completed for our veterans. We made a commitment. Is that clear?" "Crystal clear, ma'am," said Bart Bruchok, senior resident engineer for the VA Office of Construction and Facilities. "They deserve better."

This is not the first time in recent weeks that the VA officials have been in the hot seat. Since the project contractor, Brasfield and Gorrie, brought the overdue status of the Orlando VA hospital to the attention of elected officials, politicians have put the pressure on.

Originally set to open in October, the medical center is now not likely to serve the region's 400,000 veterans before December 2013 — 13 months later than promised.

Among the major hold-ups were design drawings the contractor had been waiting for and couldn't proceed without. The VA has turned in "most" of them as of last month, said George Paulson, on-site project executive for B and G, the main contractor for the 1.2 million-square-foot facility.

The VA is "stepping it up," said Paulson. "They have made great strides."

Not only is the $665 million project way behind schedule, it's also way over budget. According to representatives from B and G, changes to the project have added at least $120 million to the price tag.
read more here
This report is from FOX Orlando