In about two years, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs will be opening a sleek new outpatient medical center near Jacksonville International Airport that will expand health care options for the area’s 45,000 military veterans and provide temporary emergency shelter for those in need.
It will replace two smaller VA centers, and be 90,000 square feet larger than those centers combined, said VA’s Chad Adams.
The medical offices on South University Boulevard at Memorial Health Plaza and North Southpoint Drive will be closed. The agency will keep the center open on Jefferson Street near downtown and said its partnership with Naval Hospital Jacksonville will continue.
Good news:The Jacksonville veteran receives the VFW National Award with Gold Medal of Merit
More for veterans:The New Jacksonville Chamber opens as a group of companies for veterans, service members, and families
More about health care:Jax Spine and Pain Centers, UF Health partner for $ 25 million outpatient surgery center
The new building will be located 25 acres off UF Health North’s Max Leggett Parkway east of Interstate 95.
New Veterans Hospital to Support Homelessness, Mental Health and Addiction
The ambulance will be 173,500 square meters. And in a first for the Jacksonville area, the center will have an additional 28,500 square feet for 30 residential units, officials said. They are intended for veterans dealing with homelessness, mental health issues, or addiction.
Adams, assistant director of the VA’s Lake City Medical Center, said officials began meeting this week to plan what will be needed at the new center. The clearing has started and he expects the facility to open in about two years.
He said the new location will be a significant improvement for veterans, a single point of contact for many of their medical needs.
“Our existing sites are too small and some of them are at full capacity,” said Adams. “This new growth and modernization gives us a lot more space to expand and attract people, and that’s what you want to do.”
The project was designed by Hoefer Welker, a Kansas City-based architectural firm, and developed by US Federal Properties, also of Kansas City. It is rented to the VA as part of its veterans health system in North Florida / South Georgia.
It is designed to provide primary care, a variety of medical specialties and mental health services, as well as a large imaging center and advanced health programs for women.
Hosam Habib, director of design and partner at Hoefer Welker, said the center, which will cost $ 98 million to build, is one of the largest VA facilities the company has tackled. It will have lots of windows and lights, with the building being designed to take advantage of the wooded land on which it will stand.
“We tried to focus on the first impression: inviting, warm, lots of wood that blends in with the surrounding trees,” he said. “It’s not just a parking lot and a building, it’s surrounded by beautiful green spaces and forests.”
All of this should look less like a busy, impersonal doctor’s office and more like home, said Habib.
This is especially important in the residential quarters for veterans receiving mental health care. “We have to provide them with a homely, welcoming environment,” said Habib.
The building will also have a library, healthy eating classes, a fitness center, and a physiotherapy room.
“It is a holistic health approach that the VA implements that you go there for not just treatment but lifelong wellbeing,” Habib said.