New Tulsa veterans' hospital receives $120 million federal funding boost
Wednesday, April 28, 2021
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First announced more than a year ago, the veterans hospital in Tulsa received $120 million in federal funding in December 2020. The project is the work of a collaboration involving the federal government, state of Oklahoma, city of Tulsa, private philanthropy and Oklahoma State University.
The new veterans hospital will be located in downtown Tulsa at 7th Street and Houston Avenue on the expanded OSU Medical Center Campus. The project will convert the existing KerrEdmondson buildings on the site into a modern 275,000-square-foot, 58-bed medical-surgical hospital for veterans. The partially occupied KerrEdmondson buildings have been owned by the state of Oklahoma, and ownership is being transferred to OSU/A&M Regents by the state for the purpose of the hospital project.
Dr. Kayse Shrum, president of the OSU Center for Health Sciences and OSU president designee, said making sure veterans receive the very best care is the least that can be done to honor them for their service.
“Our veterans in northeast Oklahoma deserve a much-needed, easily accessible modern medical center where they can receive quality, compassionate care in a timely manner. For OSU-CHS, it’s been a great privilege to be part of this visionary project,” Shrum said. “While caring for veterans is a top priority, the affiliation with the veteran affairs hospital near our Tulsa campus will benefit our students and residents tremendously and further enhance our medical school nationally.”
Many physicians today benefited from training at a Veteran Affairs hospital, Shrum said.
The veterans hospital is a unique opportunity to develop a large and important veteran resource, operated by the VA but focused on and for the local community. The proximity to OSU’s academic health care facilities will support many opportunities for collaboration, joint physician appointments, increased medical residencies and shared services, all of which will improve ease and efficiency for veterans.
Sens. James Inhofe and James Lankford, along with U.S. Reps. Markwayne Mullin and Kevin Hern, strongly supported the original application for the new hospital and led the effort to prioritize the project.
OSU President Burns Hargis called the project special to the university.
“We have great respect for the women and men who have served and are serving our country in defense of liberty and the pursuit of peace,” he said. “We enjoy a longstanding relationship with the military, proudly graduating many students who become leaders in our armed forces. The approval of the federal funding for this project represents a significant achievement and step forward in reaching our shared goal to provide our veterans in northeast Oklahoma with an exceptional medical facility to care for them.
“We also appreciate the generosity of the Zarrow Family Foundations. Without their unwavering support, this project would never have proceeded. Lastly, I recognize the leadership of Dr. Kayse Shrum, president of the OSU Center for Health Sciences, for her visionary leadership in bringing this project forward.”
More than two-thirds of the 47,000 veterans who receive services at the current Jack C. Montgomery Medical Center in Muskogee live in and around the Tulsa metro area. Of the 115,400- plus veterans in the Eastern Oklahoma VA area, approximately 68 percent are closer to Tulsa than to Muskogee, leading planners to estimate the new hospital could serve up to 14,000 more veterans annually.
“Our veterans in northeast Oklahoma deserve a much-needed, easily accessible modern medical center where they can receive quality, compassionate care in a timely manner. For OSU-CHS, it’s been a great privilege to be part of this visionary project."
The Eastern Oklahoma VA Healthcare System has initiated plans to convert the Muskogee center into a much-needed regional facility for behavioral health, rehabilitation and potentially long-term care for veterans in Oklahoma and surrounding states.
The total cost of construction for the Veterans Hospital in Tulsa is estimated at $130 million, funded by the $120 million federal appropriation and $10 million in philanthropic support. The state of Oklahoma has finalized the transfer of the KerrEdmondson property valued at $35 million, and the city of Tulsa has committed $8 million toward a parking garage for the facility.
The project was made possible by the congressional CHIP-IN for Veterans Act of 2016 — Communities Helping Invest through Properties and Improvements Needed for Veterans. The act allows local communities to serve as developers for health care facilities that are stated VA priorities.
Cap Strategic CHIP-IN partnerships such as the one in Tulsa allow the Veterans Administration a pathway to build facilities more efficiently and quickly than traditional approaches. Local communities are in a better position to identify the most advantageous sites, ensure service collaboration and better oversee construction costs and deadlines in their local markets.
Construction is slated to be completed and turned over to the VA for outfitting by late 2023 and open to patients in late 2024.
Story by Sara Plummer | Photo provided by GH2 Architects