Orlando VA Hospital to open in stages

Orlando VA Hospital to open in stages

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A new memorial to fallen soldiers opened on Monday at the new Orlando VA hospital, but the building itself is still way over budget and two years delayed in opening.  U.S. Senator Bill Nelson is calling on Veterans Affairs officials to just get it done already.

"There's no excuse for the hospital continuing to be delayed, and somebody's got to be held accountable," said Sen. Nelson.

In a rare moment of bipartisan agreement coming out of Washington, Congressman John Mica said almost the same thing.

"There are responsibilities, people should be held accountable, and we're trying to do that," said Rep. Mica.

The building is scheduled to open in the summer of 2014, but even the VA doubts that deadline will be met.  Sen. Nelson has been pressing for the VA to get two of the buildings they already have opened to veterans.

"The outpatient homeless veterans and residential facility for homeless veterans is ready, and has been for over a year," he said.

Rep. Mica says he has been told by the VA that the hospital will be opened in stages and they will start with that nursing facility.

"It is delayed.  Parts of it will open, and I am encouraged that the nursing care facility will open next month, and then we'll open it in a phased orderly fashion."

We are also told that a clinic to treat homeless veterans will also open in February of 2014. That building is also separate from the main hospital. The original budget for the VA Hospital was $660 million, but Congressman Mica is not sure yet how much the final tally for the hospital will be.

"The main hospital itself is over budget and behind schedule, but the main thing is that we step up to the plate, and Congress has made a commitment that we will finish the hospital, pay for it, and I think that commitment is absolutely solid."

The VA did not comment for this story, preferring instead the focus be on their new memorial that opened on Veterans Day.

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