Veterans Secretary visits North Texas – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough visited the new Garland VA Medical Center on Friday with Dallas Congressman Colin Allred, who helped open it about a year ago.
Almost 200,000 North Texas veterans are registered for VA health care.
Garland’s facility is intended to improve service, but a North Texas veterans advocate said more services are needed.
McDonough said he thanked VA staff at Garland Medical Center for their service during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This pandemic is not over. So we have to stay on it, ”McDonough said.
The Garland Hospital building was donated to the VA by Baylor, Scott & White.
Allred said he saved taxpayers $ 400 million and the decade it would have taken to build a new hospital.
“At the height of the pandemic, when the North Texas VA took over this facility, in less than 3 weeks they got it up and running,” Allred said.
Paul Hendricks, president of the nonprofit North Texas Veterans Center in Plano, said the Garland facility has reduced the delays veterans had a few years ago in obtaining services at the medical center in Dallas VA.
“We were seeing veteran after veteran who was in desperate need of medical attention,” said Hendricks. “The VA was so overloaded it just didn’t attract attention.”
Now Hendricks has said veterans are getting much better care, but he has said more mental health treatment is needed. And he said Denton and Collin counties should have a VA hospital as well.
“There is a real huge need for this. It would provide much more convenient services, ”said Hendricks.
Congressman Allred said there was a lot more room for services in the Garland Building and that would help serve more Denton and Collin County veterans.
“We’re in the early stages of getting this hospital up and running and serving our veterans in every way,” Allred said. “There is so much to be proud of what this facility is already doing, but we have big plans for its future. “
Allred said that more visitors to Garland Hospital would help strengthen the areas around it. He said he spoke with leaders of the Town of Garland about economic development opportunities on surrounding properties where buildings that once housed the support of the former Baylor, Scott & White Hospital are vacant.
Allred also said he was hopeful the VA Medical Center emergency room could reopen to serve the community as well.
Allred said Garland does not have an open hospital emergency room at the moment.
Secretary McDonough said there were many more improvements VA is hoping to see.
“We have very significant infrastructure investments to make across the business. That’s why President Biden’s Build Back Better includes $ 5 billion for VA. I really hope we can see this passed, ”McDonough said.
The VA secretary said the rapidly growing North Texas region could expect to see additional VA facilities in the future.
In the meantime, he said the improved primary care veterans receive at Garland Medical Center has reduced emergency room visits by those same patients at other hospitals by 40%, lowering the cost to taxpayers.