More than 100 city, state, and government leaders gathered in Tulsa for the official groundbreaking for a new Veterans Affairs hospital. The hospital is expected to serve over 14,000 veterans in the area.
The new hospital will be built near the OSU campus at 7th and Houston. The Kerr-Edmondson building is being remodeled into the new hospital.
VA leaders said that means thousands of Oklahoma veterans will soon have access to better care closer to home.
"Pride and gratefulness that this is finally going to take place," said veteran Charles O'Leary.
O'Leary is an army Vietnam veteran from Hominy. He said with this new hospital, veterans like him don't have to drive as far as Muskogee to get care.
"Driving long distances, it’s really hard to do,” O’Leary said. “A lot of the veterans have difficulty hearing, they have problems with memory."
VA leaders say more than 30,000 Tulsa-area veterans travel all the way to the Jack C. Montgomery Medical Center in Muskogee.
There's a new VA outpatient clinic that just opened on summer of 2021 in South Tulsa, but the downtown Tulsa facility will be a full-fledged hospital and surgical center, that is 275,000 square feet with 58 beds.
Dr. Steven Lieberman is the VA's head doctor. He said this hospital aligns with the government's mission to serve more veterans in rural areas.
"It’s just such an important day for veterans. We think this is a perfect location, and the relationship with Oklahoma State University, the healthcare system is just going to bring the best and brightest to care for veterans here," said Lieberman.
The hospital received $120 million in federal funding last year. O'Leary said he's proud to see his country taking better care our nation's veterans.
"We can’t leave our people behind. We’re going to take care of our veterans here today," O'Leary added.
The project is set to be finished in late 2021 and open to patients by 2024.