VA Slow To Spell Out Clinic Relocation Plans in St. Johns County
ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. The Department of Veterans Affairs is under fire: St. Johns County leaders say the VA is wasting their time and your money. The medical treatment of local veterans hangs in the balance.
County leaders say the VA has been slow to spell out its plans to relocate a clinic.
The county said the VA has increasingly become less responsive with them. Right now, all theyre getting is silence. The county has a brand new health building; in a few weeks, all county employees at the old location will be there, leaving the St. Augustine VA clinic the lone tenant at the old site.
Theres a major shakeup on the way for a plot of land off U.S. 1. Its where you can currently find the St. Augustine VA clinic. A clinic that Army veteran James Figueroa has come to rely on.
It would be more settling to know where my treatment is going to continue, Figueroa said.
But the future of the clinic is in limbo. Action News obtained a two-page letter from the county to the department of veteran's affairs.
It says, St. Johns County has made every effort to assist the VA in finding a suitable CBOC site that will provide the best outcome for the Countys veterans consequently, it is difficult to understand the continuing lack of communication on such an important issue.
Assistant county administrator Jerry Cameron said they need a timeline because if the VA is not out of their current building by March 31:
That could mean upwards of $400,000 a year in revenues for the county, but worse than that it means around 100 jobs that won't happen, said Cameron.
The VA plans to put the temporary clinic less than a block away from where they are now, but work hasnt even started yet. Meanwhile, work is just about finished at the countys brand new health facility, a space the county has repeatedly offered to the VA.
We have still not heard from them for a building permit for a temporary trailer site, Cameron said.
Action News got this response from the VA:
"VA will make every attempt to provide a seamless transition from the current facility to the interim location and ultimately to the long-term facility.
Once the procurement of the modular is completed, VA can provide additional information on the timelines.
By mid-February, the VA clinic wont have access to personnel who cleans, but worse they wont have water or electricity. The county said theyve simply run out of options, and theres a real concern there could be a gap where service will interrupted.
If the VA does not vacate the site by March 31, it will have to pay $53,000 a month for the first six months. The county has a team on standby to fast track a VA request for building permits on the temporary site.
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