ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The United States Department of Veterans Affairs plans for the VA hospital in Albany to eventually shut its doors. But, when one door closes, another opens as the VA plans for a new hospital to replace the current one.
The Albany Stratton VAMC (Veterans Affairs Medical Center) was built in 1951 and was last renovated in the 1980s. According to the VA, “both the current infrastructure and layout do not meet modern health care standards, and the existing facility requires significant capital investment.”
“A new building would be less to upkeep. Less to update,” says Director of Public Affairs at Albany Stratton Peter Potter, “plus, you have the environmental pieces of the equation as it (a new building) would be more friendly to the environment. So there is a whole purpose as to why make a new building.”
According to the VA’s report, the current hospital has around $222.4 million in facility deficiencies. The cost of a new facility will be covered by a $1.5 billion project by the department nationwide. VA clinics around the Capital Region like the ones in Troy, Schenectady, and Clifton Park will eventually be closed, but the services, according to Potter, will be realigned to the new facility. The VA’s report also calls for the current clinic in Glens Falls to be moved down to Saratoga Springs.
“VA will not be leaving any services. We will not be taking any services away. In fact what we are doing, by re-aligning our services, we’re ensuring that our care is where the majority of the veterans are,” explains Potter.
Potter says the entire process could take at least a decade or more from approval of plans by Congress to the actual doors opening up to patients, “it wouldn’t be out of this world to suggest that it might be 10-15 years. Certainly, we could say it could take 20 years but it’s going to be done with the aspect of making sure we do the best for our veterans.”
The city of Albany says it welcomes a new VA facility. In a statement, Mayor Kathy Sheehan’s Chief of Staff, David Galin, says, “Mayor Sheehan believes it is critically important we have services available to our veterans that meet our veterans’ evolving needs and looks forward to the Department of Veterans Affairs sharing more about what exactly is planned.”