Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Orlando Lake Nona VA hospital opening delayed to mid-2013

VA hospital opening delayed to mid-2013
By Marni Jameson and Mark K. Matthews, Orlando Sentinel
9:13 p.m. EST, January 31, 2012

Thousands of veterans who have been waiting years for a VA Medical Center to open in Central Florida will have to wait even longer.

Construction delays and design errors have pushed the opening of the new $665 million medical center from October to the summer of 2013 — at the earliest, VA officials told the Sentinel on Tuesday.

"I was really sorry to hear there's a delay because we need that hospital so badly for the veterans in all the six counties," said Earle Denton, an Orlando veteran and member of the Orange County Veterans' Council. "We had sort of planned for that whole thing to be ready in October."

Hospital officials blamed several factors, including mistakes in the original plans, changes in medical equipment and issues with the contractor. Others familiar with the project say roof leaks are also a concern.

Though no official date for completion has been agreed upon, the VA is "working collaboratively with the prime contractor to get construction completed as soon as practicable," said the statement.

Brasfield & GorrieƖ is the main contractor on the VA hospital, the largest player in the emerging Lake Nona Medical City complex. With 1.2 million square feet, the hospital is one of the biggest government projects ever built in Central Florida. Principals from the firm did not return repeated requests for comment.

When completed, the 300-bed facility will serve Central Florida's 400,000 veterans, who comprise the nation's most active VA system but have no hospital.
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