Area veterans often spend a full day traveling and waiting to get simple primary medical care. But perhaps not for much longer.
In March 2019, NBC ran a story confirming the Veteran’s Administration (VA) plans to purchase the former Baylor Garland campus at 2300 Marie Curie Blvd. I followed that report up with a lengthy blog post detailing the overall impact of the purchase and how it fits into the larger plans of the City of Garland.
Since then, the VA has been methodically working through the process of acquiring the facility, which is valued at more than $400 million. We all knew that this process wouldn’t be quick or easy, but all levels of government are still committed to the task.
As the VA works through its process, our local congressional representatives have stepped up their efforts to deliver on their own promise to our veterans. Most recently, Congressman Collin Allred (CD-32) drafted a July 22 letter of support, which was co-signed by Ron Wright, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Kay Granger, Marc Veasey, Van Taylor, and Michael Burgess. In it he states:
“With a 3.5 percent annual growth rate, North Texas is one of the fastest-growing areas in the country for Veterans. Yet the reality is that the VA health care system is stretched thin. Even Dallas-Fort Worth community hospitals are operating at full capacity, leaving 40-80 Veterans per day in temporary community care awaiting a bed at a VA facility.”
The facility in Garland is within 10 miles of nearly 30,000 Veterans that utilize VA services, and has the potential to offer hundreds of new hospital beds for our veterans.
This public commitment from our Federal officials is a welcomed endorsement to a project that will have a strong, positive impact on our community from the day that the doors re-open. Garland is hard at work preparing for that day.
I recently met with the City’s Planning Department to discuss the hospital area as a whole. Our goal was to consider what the area might look like twenty to thirty years from now. We wanted to look down the road and ensure that our ideas are in sync with the needs of the hospital and do right by the area residents.
Our key goals:
* Help the hospital succeed
* Find solutions that make sense for the community in the long term
* Ensure a responsible use of taxpayer dollars
We’re still in the early stages of planning, and we still have a lot of unanswered questions. But the City takes its commitment to that area and to the VA very seriously. We have learned much from the mistakes of the past, and it is my hope that our institutional memory will keep us from repeating them.
The VA has not given a timeline for a completion of its analysis, but I hope to be able to share firmer timelines in the near future.
Robert John Smith
City Council Member, District 8