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Sen. Inhofe 'very, very proud' of progress on new VA hospital in downtown Tulsa

Sen. Inhofe 'very, very proud' of progress on new VA hospital in downtown Tulsa

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The transformation of two state office buildings into a downtown Tulsa Veterans Affairs hospital is on track for an opening in 2024, U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe was told Wednesday.

Inhofe was briefed by officials with the Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences and the Zarrow Foundation, which are spearheading the joint project.

“It’s coming together, and I’m very, very proud,” Inhofe said during the presentation.

“I’m a little bit selfish,” he said a few minutes later. “I want this to be an installation everybody looks at and says, ‘We want to be like they are in Tulsa.’ ”

The hospital will occupy what are now the connected Edmondson and Kerr buildings on Houston Avenue west of the Cox Business Convention Center. Renovation of those buildings and construction of a mental health hospital are expected to cost $146 million, with $120 million coming from the VA and $26 million from private sources.

In addition, the state has donated the property, valued at $35 million, and the city has promised to build an $8 million parking facility.

Officials said Wednesday that construction could begin as early as next summer, depending on when the federal share of the funding is available. They expect construction to take about 18 months, with another year needed to equip and furnish the interior.

Zarrow Foundation Executive Director Bill Major said almost $24 million of the $26 million in private funds has been raised, and he expects the remainder to be pledged soon.

The Zarrow Foundation is managing the project through VHiT LLC, which was set up for that specific purpose. The facility will be turned over to the VA upon completion.

Johnny Stevens, senior vice president and chief operation officer of OSU-CHS, said the college has worked out a joint hiring arrangement to attract specialists who will serve on the staffs of both the medical school and the hospitals.

The VA will also have cooperative agreements with the OSU Medical Center located across Seventh Street with the new facilities.

As part of the reorganization of VA services in northeastern Oklahoma, the Jack Montgomery Medical Center in Muskogee is expected to become a residential substance abuse treatment and mental health facility.

Stevens said OSU-CHS will continue existing relationships with that hospital, including operation of its emergency room.


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Randy Krehbiel

918-581-8365

randy.krehbiel@tulsaworld.com

Twitter: @rkrehbiel

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