$13M in improvements coming to VA Medical Center set for replacement

Facility Director Bob Morey
Facility Director Bob Morey

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Millions of taxpayer dollars are coming to improve Louisville's VA facility, even though there are plans to eventually replace it. It comes at a time the facility planner said the $13 million in improvements you're paying for are needed in a building that's about 60 years old.

The Robley Rex Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center sees about 550,000 patients a year.

"Because of the volume of work we do, things are wearing out," said Bob Morey, VA facility planner.

$13 million in improvements, in federal tax dollars, on the way.

"In order for us to be able to provide world quality healthcare to our veterans, we are routinely upgrading our facilities," Morey said.

Those upgrades include a little more than $4 million to expand a treatment clinic for veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Close to $4.5 million will go toward a substance abuse residential rehab treatment program. That money is on top of $2.5 million already spent to upgrade the surgical intensive care unit. But that's not all

"We're trying to get approval for a $9 million to $10 million parking garage," said Morey.

In February, WAVE 3 investigated after some veterans told us they had trouble finding parking spots. One called the parking situation "deplorable." It is still a hot topic. In fact, during our interview with Morey, someone in the distance shouted: "Tear the parking lot down in the back and build a high rise parking lot!"

Morey said money hasn't yet been approved for that garage and the VA is working to fix that problem.

As far as the replacement center, the VA was approved for a $75 million in 2006. So we asked why they are spending millions on this facility if there are plans for a new one.

"Just because you're told you're going to get a new hospital, doesn't necessarily mean you know when you're going to get it," Morey said. "This hospital will be operated and maintained as if we're going to be in it for another 50 years. Until we actually get a site acquired for a new hospital."

Morey said construction on some of those projects could start in the next three to six months.

As for that new facility, first leaders must make a decision on where to build. Once they do that, it could take three years to complete.

As for the parking garage, Morey said they hope to get the okay for the money to build it in the next month or so.

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