Friday, June 10, 2005

Hilo VA hospital
fund gets $2M more

The 95-bed nursing home is expected
to be completed by January 2007

The federal Department of Veterans Affairs has increased the funding of the long-awaited 95-bed Hilo State Veterans Nursing Home by $2 million, bringing its share to $20 million.

Miles Takaaze, spokesman for the Hawaii Health Systems Corp., said yesterday that two years ago the VA appropriated $18 million for the facility, which will be located on the 22-acre Hilo Medical Center campus.

That was matched by $10 million from the state. The state estimates that nearly 15,500 veterans live on the Big Island.

However, since then costs have escalated, and the project will cost $32 million, Takaaze said.

An additional $2 million will come from Hawaii Health Systems Corp., which operates 12 state hospitals and will run the Hilo veterans home and adult day health care facility.

The two-story, 59,000-square-foot veterans home will be located where the old Hilo Hospital was built.

Demolition, which cost $3.5 million, of the old building began in September.

Takaaze said the new veterans home will be built by Dick Pacific and should be completed by January 2007. Construction is expected to begin later this summer.

Initially, Big Island veterans wanted a 200-bed nursing home since the service area of the facility includes the Pacific basin. Hawaii is one of only three states that lacks a long-term veterans care home.

However, Gov. Linda Lingle would only approve funds for a 95-bed facility, which she said could be expanded.

Past VA studies indicated that the number of veterans on the Big Island could sustain a nursing home with 214 beds.

Sen. Daniel Akaka said the VA funds "lay the foundation for a much-needed facility that will provide Hawaii veterans with long-term care."

Sen. Daniel Inouye added: "This funding is a testament to our commitment to provide the excellent care our older veterans deserve. They willingly stepped forward to put themselves at risk when they were asked to do so, and now we can assist them in their time of need through this new facility."

The state advisory board of veterans' services chose a name for the new Hilo facility earlier this week but will not release it until it has been approved by the Hawaii Health Systems Corp., a state veterans affairs official said.

Dept. of Veterans Affairs

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