01/05/11 Wednesday morning, Congressman Joe Donnelly announced that the bill appropriating $6,731,000 for an expanded VA Community Based Outpatient Clinic in South Bend was signed into law by the president on December 23, 2011. Donnelly voted for the bill funding the new health care facility, H.R. 2055, The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2012, in the House on December 16, 2011, and the Senate approved it on December 17, 2011.
“It is past time for veterans in the South Bend area to have a more convenient health care facility that better meets their medical needs,” said Donnelly. “Since I came to Congress, this effort has been one of my top priorities, so I am pleased to announce that the authorization and funding for the new facility is now law. The $6.7 million veterans’ health facility, expected to open in 2015, will mean that Hoosier veterans in our community will not need to travel as frequently to Fort Wayne, Marion, or Indianapolis to get the kind of care that most Hoosiers get close to home.”
Howard Wiseman, a Vietnam veteran from North Liberty said, “This new veterans’ health center will shorten my driving time for receiving care, especially for the hearing loss I have because of my time as an artillery gunner during the Vietnam War. Other veterans also won’t have to drive across the state or ride a bus to receive care—and that can make an awfully long day for an elderly veteran. It will be really nice to be able to get care here rather than in Fort Wayne or Marion. Thank you to Congressman Donnelly for his work for the veteran soldiers, sailors, and airmen in this area. I don’t think that the average citizen realizes how much Joe does for us.”
As planned, the expanded VA Community Based Outpatient Clinic will be a leased, 65,000 square foot facility, nearly 10 times the size of the current South Bend clinic. It will offer primary care; expanded mental health care; laboratory, radiology, audiology, and pharmacy services; and outreach programs for newly-returning veterans. Donnelly will continue to advocate for the clinic to contract with local hospitals to provide routine inpatient care for veterans. The location of the new facility and whether it will be new construction or in an existing building have not yet been determined by the VA. The VA expects to open the new facility in 2015.
Donnelly also announced today that the current Community Based Outpatient Clinic in South Bend will be moving in order to more than double in size—from the current 7,000 square feet to 18,000 square feet—before the 65,000 square foot facility is complete. The VA hopes to open this interim facility as early as Spring 2012 but has not yet announced where the interim facility will be.
Donnelly has worked with the VA to improve medical care for veterans in the South Bend area since he took office in 2007. In April 2009, VA Secretary General Eric Shinseki announced approval of a new medical facility in South Bend. This project was included in the President’s FY2012 budget request submitted to Congress last year. When President Obama signed the bill into law on December 23, 2011, it was the last step of approval before the VA could move forward with the project.
Donnelly has also successfully advocated for the opening of the Logansport Veterans’ Multi-Use Outreach Clinic in June 2008, the Goshen VA Community-Based Outreach Clinic in October 2008, and the Peru VA Community-Based Outreach Clinic in June 2010.