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Published: Monday, 2/7/2011 - Updated: 3 years ago

2012 opening planned for expanded VA clinic

BY JC REINDL
BLADE STAFF WRITER

An artist's drawing shows the Veterans Administration clinic planned to be built for northwest Ohio veterans at 1200 South Detroit Ave. on the University of Toledo Health Science Campus. An artist's drawing shows the Veterans Administration clinic planned to be built for northwest Ohio veterans at 1200 South Detroit Ave. on the University of Toledo Health Science Campus.
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Site plans for a new and expanded Veterans Administration outpatient clinic in South Toledo are set to go before the city's land use commission this week, and the building could open by fall 2012.

The two-story facility would be built in a field at 1200 South Detroit Ave. on the University of Toledo's Health Science Campus, formerly the Medical College of Ohio. At nearly 100,000 square feet, it would be more than twice the size of the current VA outpatient clinic on Glendale Avenue and could offer additional medical services for area veterans.

Toledo's clinic is part of the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System, and local veterans now travel to the Ann Arbor clinic's campus for in-patient treatment and speciality services not offered locally, including radiation. The new clinic would not be a full-service facility but could reduce patients' Ann Arbor trips.

"We're providing a lot more services closer to home," said Robert McDivitt, director of the health care system.

The Toledo Plan Commission is to vote Thursday on the 10.4-acre site plan submitted by the project's developer, Carnegie Management and Development Co. of Westlake, Ohio.

The land for the new clinic is owned by the University of Toledo Foundation, which is selling it to the developer for $810,898, said Matt Schroeder, the foundation's vice president of real estate and business development. The deal is expected to close Feb. 28.

Pending approval of the site plan, a ground-breaking ceremony is set for March 28. The building is to be finished by the summer of 2012 and to open that fall.

The VA system has a 20-year lease contract with the developer for the clinic space. It is to pay $2.4 million annually for rent and operating expenses, or $48 million for the life of the lease, Mr. McDivitt said.

UT owns the clinic on Glendale Avenue. The VA System pays $756,000 a year in rent there.

Mr. McDivitt said the developer won the contract for the new building through a national and competitive bid process. He did not know the facility's construction cost. The developer did not return a phone message last week.

VA representatives have said the new clinic will retain about 100 jobs and add 50 to 60 positions with an average hourly wage of $47.90.

The city of Toledo has been another partner in the project. In December, the city was awarded a $750,000 Clean Ohio Assistance grant from the Ohio Department of Development to remove various debris, abandoned steam tunnels, and asbestos-containing materials from the new clinic site.

The property was once part of the former Toledo State Hospital campus, and included a nurses' dormitory, a chapel, women's cottages, a food service complex, a power house, post office, and an amusement hall. The buildings were demolished in the late 1970s and 1980s, but some underground tunnels still exist, according to a project report.

The VA has in recent years expanded the services its offers in Toledo in response to efforts by U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo).

Two years ago, she mediated an updated agreement between the university and VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System that brought faculty members from the UT Medical Center to the clinic to provide care.

Miss Kaptur said last week that the new clinic building is progress, and that she is glad for the VA's cooperation.

But she said she still believes that not enough health-care services are available in Toledo for local veterans.

"Too many of our veterans have to take buses up to Ann Arbor rather than providing services right here in Toledo," Miss Kaptur said.

"How would you like to have cancer, get on a bus in the morning, go up to Ann Arbor, get your treatment and then sit in the waiting room all afternoon until they take you home? That's what they expect of our vets."

Miss Kaptur said she wants to see additional contracts signed between the VA and UT to guarantee that certain services are provided locally.

"I'm doing my best to provide a full-service campus for our vets sort of like what you have at the Bethesda Naval Hospital. They've got it right, we don't have it right."

The Toledo clinic draws the majority of its veterans from Lucas, Wood, Monroe, Fulton, Hancock, Defiance, and Sandusky counties.

Contact JC Reindl at: jcreindl@theblade.com or 419-724-6065.



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