After years of hope, talking, planning and construction, the new Veterans Administration Healthcare Center is set to open in Cape Coral on Dec. 17.
It is a project worthy of the wait.
Once its doors open, the 200,000-square-foot $131.8 million complex will serve an estimated 200,000 veterans throughout Southwest Florida. Previously, they had to make a 300-mile round trip to Bay Pines in St. Petersburg for services not able to be offered at the much smaller VA clinic in Fort Myers.
Numerous services will be expanded at the new facility at 2489 Diplomat Parkway at the intersection of Corbett Road across from Hope Hospice. Those expanded services will include an anticoagulation clinic, audiology, cardiology, compensation and pension exams, dental, dermatology, eye care, fluoroscopy, gastroenterology and endoscopic procedures, home and community care, mental health, neurology, nuclear imaging, nutrition counseling, orthopedics, pharmacy consultation and medication pick up, phlebotomy, podiatry, primary care, prosthetics, rheumatology, social work, spinal cord injury, telephone call center, tobacco cessation, ultrasound, urology, women's care and X-ray, according to the VA.
Not only will area veterans be able to receive more services closer to home, but the community as a whole will benefit as medical facilities spring up around the clinic, creating both better health care access for everyone and jobs as well, city officials have said,
And we point out that the facility did not come to fruition without a lot of effort.
Kudos go most notably to Congressman Connie Mack, who was imminently instrumental at the federal level.
Thanks go, too, all the way back to some behind-the-scenes residents who saw the Cape as a viable site for the competitive project back before it was a jot on the drawing board, well before the 30-acre parcel on which the facility sits was purchased in 2006.
Those individuals include former Lee County Commissioner Andy Coy, as well as members of a citizen committee that included Michel and Ed Doherty, and Dolores Bertolini and husband Aldo, a veteran who, unfortunately, died before his dream was realized.
Congressman Mack, R-Fort Myers, served as keynote speaker for the center's groundbreaking, held back in January of 2010
"I'm so pleased that the construction of the new VA outpatient clinic in Cape Coral will soon get under way," Mack said then in a prepared statement. "We never would have made it to this point without the support of the VA, the people of Cape Coral and the Southwest Florida veterans' community."
Thank you to the many, many people at the grassroots, city, county, state, and federal level who made this possible for our service men and women, and for our community.
- Breeze Newspapers