President Donald Trump’s signature on the $2.3 trillion appropriations and COVID relief package Sunday night signaled full speed ahead for Tulsa’s new Veterans Affairs hospital.
The bill includes the federal government’s full $120 million commitment to the facility, which also includes participation by the state, city, local philanthropists and Oklahoma State University. The hospital will occupy the former Edmondson and Kerr state office buildings on the west side of downtown.
Plans call for those two buildings, which have already been transferred from the state to Oklahoma State University, to be renovated into a 58-bed medical-surgical hospital across the street from the OSU Medical Center.
In conjunction with the hospital’s completion, the Jack Montgomery Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Muskogee will transition to an in-patient treatment center and out-patient clinic.
“This is the first step to modernizing veterans care in Eastern Oklahoma, and we will build upon it by developing a state-of-the-art behavioral health center in Muskogee while maintaining outpatient services,” said U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, who has long advocated improved VA services in Tulsa and throughout the state.
Supporters of the VA reorganization in northeastern Oklahoma say two-thirds of those now receiving treatment in Muskogee live in the Tulsa metro area.
The federal funds approved this week will pay for most of the new hospital’s construction, with another $10 million from private philanthropy, led by the Anne and Henry Zarrow Foundation.
The city is contributing a 436-space parking structure financed through a 2019 bond issue.
Once completed, the hospital property will be transferred from OSU to the Department of Veterans Affairs and operated in cooperation with the OSU Medical Center and the OSU Center for Health Sciences.
“For OSU-CHS, it’s been a great privilege to be part of this visionary project,” said OSU-CHS President Kayse Shrum. “While caring for veterans is a top priority, the affiliation with the Veteran Affairs Hospital near our Tulsa campus will benefit our students and residents tremendously and further enhance our medical school nationally.
“After years of hard work and relentless determination by many civic leaders in Tulsa and local, state, and federal elected officials, we have achieved one of the most significant milestones, the funding for this project. We look forward to the start of construction and the completion of the project,” Shrum said.
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