Congressman John Mica: Make better use of old VA hospital

Congressman John Mica : Make better use of old VA Hospital

Congressman John Mica is hoping to get a bill passed through Congress that will help fill the old VA hospital site at Lake Baldwin.

"It shouldn't be vacant."

There is current activity at the old VA site. Michael Strickler with VA Public Affairs showed us the clinic and transition areas that are helping the homeless, plus some administrative areas.

"It's now what we consider an outpatient clinic along with Viera and Daytona. So still a lot happening here. We knew this was going to be a viable place because of the amount of veterans that actually live in this area."

Most of the VA activity though has moved to the new 660 million dollar hospital at Lake Nona, leaving well over 100 beds at the old site open. Congressman Mica doesn't trust the VA to move quickly.

"Unless you have been on another planet VA has had a lot of operational problems that you've seen. So I can by transferring this to the state save money, and save time, and also save some of the expense to the federal taxpayer in getting the state to operate this vacant facility."

He wants a 120 bed facility transferred to the state VA, and a 60 bed domiciliary be used for more homeless services. Congressman Mica has to depend on the VA to get open 3 of the 4 floors on the hospital site that are currently not being used for patient care.

"We're talking about day surgery on the 2nd floor. Mental health, PTSD, possibly other medical services that we can provide our veterans in those vacant parts of the old Naval Hospital."

That 60 bed facility at the back of the Lake Baldwin property is ready for use. Congressman Mica showed Fox 35 a room ready to go, and says homeless vets could be put there quickly.

"Not just come here and get a pill from the clinic here, the pharmacy, and then go back and sleep in their cars or under a viaduct. We have that space available here."

Mica says a facility built in 1998 should be used to its fullest.

"It's not that old. I t does need a little bit of updating. Some of the space was used for transition to get to Lake Nona. Now its becoming vacated. I want it open sooner rather than later."

The Congressman will introduce the VA bill this month, and he's already sent a letter to VA Secretary Robert MacDonald asking for the other changes.