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Veterans Affairs to upgrade Vancouver medical campus

Columbian - 3/2/2024

Mar. 1—U.S. Veterans Affairs plans to expand primary and psychiatric care at its Vancouver medical campus.

At a gathering of Western governors last weekend, VA Secretary Denis McDonough announced his department will spend $139.4 million in 2024 on construction and repairs at the VA Portland Health Care System, which includes Vancouver's campus. Funding first needs to be approved by Congress.

The expansion plans are part of a larger push to replace, upgrade or expand the VA Portland Health Care System, which is aging and relies on seismically vulnerable buildings — even as demands for services are rising.

The VA plans to spend $12.3 million on construction of primary care, mental health and virtual care space in Vancouver, as well as $9.6 million on a geriatric psychiatry ward.

"More access is just phenomenal. I am so glad to hear that," said Kim Schneiderman, the executive director of NAMI Southwest Washington, a nonprofit that advocates for mental health resources.

Washington ranked 32nd for access to mental health care in 2022, according to Mental Health America.

"We don't have enough," Schneiderman said. "Seniors are a real issue with trying to find resources for them. The people that we do have are doing a marvelous job, trying their best, but we need so much."

Construction will add a second story to Vancouver's existing primary care building, a spokesperson for the VA Portland Health Care System said. It has yet to be decided how many additional clinicians will work at the expanded primary care building.

"We are thrilled to have the support of Secretary McDonough which will allow us to serve our Veterans and keep them and our employees safe in these important areas," said David Holt, director of the VA Portland Health Care System.


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