By way of the future consolidation of its Tulsa services within a single new facility, the Eastern Oklahoma Veterans Affairs Health Care System also will broaden its offerings.
Local VA officials tout the streamlined expansion as a one-stop shop, world-class facility that is designed with the capacity to accommodate clientele growth projections over the next two decades.
Groundbreaking is expected in March or April 2019 on a 140,000-square-foot building at 91st Street and South Mingo Road, with an initial commitment of $20 million from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The 20-year lease totals nearly $100 million.
The expected latest date for completion is June 2021.
“I’m most excited for the veterans we’re currently serving and the future veterans,” said Mark Morgan, director of the Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System. “I’m really excited for them to get treatment in a world-class facility. ... We’ve got a lot of high-quality staff, and this allows them to practice at the top of their game.”
The new Tulsa VA Health Care Center will replace the outpatient clinic at 41st Street and South Mingo Road, the Behavioral Medicine Clinic at East 11th Street and U.S. 169, and Dental Clinic at 51st Street and South Yale Avenue.
Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System serves more than 39,000 veterans, 20,000-plus of them in the Tulsa market.
Morgan noted that the new location is easily accessible by driving and on the city bus routes. Transportation services currently provided will continue at the new facility, Morgan said.
The campus also is among a growing medical community, with two large hospitals nearby should there be a medical emergency.
“It really works well in that respect,” Morgan said.
Veterans can anticipate more complex services and specialty care, including an emphasis on women.
Trisha Barrett, executive assistant to the associate director, said primary-care and outpatient surgical operations will be expanded, along with podiatry services. There also will be a complete section for women’s health, including mammography — a service not previously offered.
She also pointed to the ability to provide a better flow and team approach to health care.
Each veteran is assigned a team — a physician or nurse practitioner as the provider, a licensed practical nurse and a health care technician. That team also will be able to call in a pharmacist, behavioral health counselor, dietitian and social worker as needed.
“That becomes their medical home,” Barrett said.
There also will be physical therapy and rehabilitation space, along with pain management services.
The 91st and Mingo location will sit on 30 acres, with about 945 on-site parking spots.
Morgan said the building’s design takes better advantage of natural light, with broad windows and skylights. The color scheme also will add positively to the ambience.
The future of each of the current Tulsa VA spaces is unclear, with facilities that are leased under varying terms and conditions.
Morgan said Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System will be a good tenant and meet obligations.
“We will be good stewards of tax dollars and work with the property owners,” he said.
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