BISHOP PUSHES FOR NEW LOCATION AND FASTER OPENING FOR COLUMBUS VETERAN HEALTHCARE CENTER
COLUMBUS, GA – Yesterday, Congressman Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (GA-02), Vice Chair of the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies, sent a letter to Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie requesting a new, more accessible location for the proposed Columbus Community-Based Outpatient Clinic that could be up and running in 30 days. This letter is a follow-up to multiple conversations between Bishop, the Secretary, and the Appropriations Subcommittee over the decades long delay in construction of the Columbus Clinic. The surge and spread of the coronavirus pandemic has made the need for a clinic even more crucial.
Bishop wrote, “Less than one percent of the U.S. population has positively tested for coronavirus, yet almost 8.5 percent of the veteran population has tested positive. Because of this, there is even greater urgency to providing an expanded Community-Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) in the Columbus region to enable the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to provide increased and safer healthcare for veterans.
“…Notwithstanding that the current proposed site for the CBOC will be constructed on the northeast corner of River Road and Mobley Road in Columbus, Georgia, nowhere near the preferred location of a majority of veterans for the new CBOC, the impact of coronavirus on the Columbus veteran community further necessitates that VA reexamine the requirements of the lease. The terms of the current contract are no longer acceptable because during this time of a pandemic, veterans in the Columbus area should not be forced to wait a year and a half for the construction of a brand-new facility when there is an existing facility currently available that the Columbus CBOC could occupy within one month.
“…There is a facility available on Comer Avenue that is one block from Piedmont Columbus Regional Hospital. It has 55,000 square feet of class A clinical space, it is located in Central Columbus in the main health district where many veterans currently access services, it is on a central bus route, and most importantly, it could be ready for immediate occupancy in 30 days. It also currently houses the VA Job Rehabilitation and Placement Center.”
He added, “Veterans will have access to increased healthcare in as soon as one month, which will allow VA clinicians time to prepare for a potential second wave of coronavirus and have the space and workforce to more effectively combat the deadly disease.”
The full letter can be found here.