When Coast Guard veteran and Waterville resident Daniel Cannode needs medical care, he is sometimes forced to travel to Ann Arbor because Toledo's outpatient clinic for veterans does not offer certain specialty services.
But now that the clinic is being replaced and expanded, Mr. Cannode, 62, a Purple Heart recipient for his service in the Vietnam War, said he looks forward to better care closer to home.
The secretary of veterans affairs and the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System announced yesterday the award of a 20-year lease contract for a replacement outpatient clinic on South Detroit Avenue in South Toledo. It will be twice as large as the Glendale Avenue clinic and have more services available to the veteran community.
Project developer Carnegie Management and Development is expected to complete plans for the 66,000-square-foot building in six months and construct it by the summer of 2012.
Officials said the project's lease contract is expected to cost more than $41 million.
Robert McDivitt, director of VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System, said the clinic had outgrown the old building, because of a sharp increase of about 20,000 outpatient visits in the last year.
"People in the community have been working on it for many years," Mr. McDivitt said.
Although the University of Toledo Medical Center is right across the street from the current clinic at 3333 Glendale Ave., little connection existed between the two organizations until recently.
In March, 2009, U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) mediated an updated agreement between the university and VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System, which brings faculty members from the former Medical College of Ohio to the clinic to provide health care.
UT medical students too will benefit from the research and experience opportunities the larger clinic offers, leaders said. It will be near the post office on South Detroit.
"We are interested in additional places for students and trainees to study," said Dr. Lloyd Jacobs, University of Toledo president and former chief of staff of two different VA systems. The university has helped the project by giving land to the new clinic.
VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System also formed partnerships with four other organizations - Area Office on Aging of Northwestern Ohio, YMCA and JCC of Greater Toledo, Hospice of Northwest Ohio, and the Margaret Hunt Senior Center - to provide community activities, such as employment training, for the veterans.
Miss Kaptur worked on passing legislation that designated funds for the building. She said she viewed the new clinic as a base to enhance the overall support provided for the veteran community, especially for those who come back from war feeling isolated.
Organizers hope the project will bring money into the Toledo area by providing construction jobs and in the expanded clinic itself.
For veterans such as Mr. Cannode, the main hope is an improvement in quality of care and overall quality of life.
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