Groundbreaking ceremony set for VA clinic in Cape
After months of planning and bidding, the ground is finally set to be broken on Lee County’s new VA Outpatient Clinic in Cape Coral on Jan. 14.
The new facility is meant to deal with an increasing number of veterans living in Southwest Florida and to provide services formerly available only at the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System near St. Petersburg.
Faith Belcher, spokesperson for the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System, said some preparation is already under way at 2489 Diplomat Parkway East, across from the Cape Coral Hope Hospice facility, but the upcoming groundbreaking will be the official kick-off date for project construction.
Approximately 202,000 veterans live in Southwest Florida and officials expect to see an increase in that number over the next decade.
“We do expect to see continued growth in the veterans population in Southwest Florida similar to growth in the last few years,” said Belcher.
Until construction on the new outpatient clinic concludes sometime in 2011, local veterans will continue visiting the Fort Myers VA Clinic on the Winkler Extension or travel to Bay Pines for their health care needs.
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, there are 1.7 million veterans living in Florida. Officials believe that the number of veterans is likely to increase as more military personnel return from operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
One reason for more veterans visiting local VA clinics, according to Belcher, is that some veterans have left their private insurance carriers as the economy went sour.
The Cape Coral clinic was designed by Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum Inc. and construction of the $131.8 million project will be overseen by the Naples-based Kraft Construction, Inc.
Congressman Connie Mack, R-Fort Myers, will serve as keynote speaker for the groundbreaking.
“I’m so pleased that the construction of the new VA outpatient clinic in Cape Coral will soon get under way,” said Mack in a prepared statement. “We never would have made it to this point without the support of the VA, the people of Cape Coral and the Southwest Florida veterans’ community.”
The groundbreaking will be held at 10 a.m. on Jan. 14.