U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand announced Monday that, after their push, $190M in funding for the Canandaigua Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Campus modernization project was included in the Fiscal Year 2019 Senate Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related (MilCon-VA) Appropriations Bill. The much-needed funding would enable the completion of the second and final phase of the modernization project. The overall $351 million project is split between a $161 million Phase I, that recently began construction thanks to earlier funding Schumer pushed for, and a $190 million Phase II, which Schumer and Gillibrand secured in the new Senate FY19 MilCon-VA appropriations bill. After securing this funding increase in the Senate, the senators said that they would push for this funding level to be included in the final Fiscal Year 2019 funding bill before year’s end.
“Our veterans have protected and defended us, and when they finish their tour of duty it is our job to care for them. The new Canandaigua Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Campus does just that by giving Rochester-area veterans the facilities they need and deserve,” said Senator Schumer. “Fifteen years ago, based on incorrect claims it was outdated, the Canandaigua VA was targeted for closure. But we stopped that in its tracks and instead launched this plan to modernize the campus to provide state-of-the-art care and guard against any future attempts to close it. I fought for more than a decade to secure funding for Phase I of this vital project, and now I am thrilled to announce that $190 million in funding for the second phase was included in the Senate’s Fiscal Year 2019 VA appropriations bill. This $190 million in funding for Phase II will help get this project over the finish line for veterans in Rochester and beyond. This vital funding will allow these brave men and women who fought to protect our freedom the access to high-quality health care services close to home. I’m extremely proud of the role I played in securing this vital funding and will work with my colleagues in the House and Senate to ensure that this funding is included in the final appropriations bill.”
“New York State is home to hundreds of thousands of men and women who have served our country in the military,” said Senator Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “When these brave service members return home, we must ensure that they have the necessary access to quality medical care. Congress must ensure full funding is allocated for the Canandaigua Veterans Affairs Medical Center to receive the needed updates and renovations to continue serving veterans in their community. Our veterans and their families make sacrifices for all of us every day and I will always fight in the Senate to support them when they come home from their incredible service.”
The Phase II funding will go toward the upgrades and modernization of the Canandaigua VA campus, including the construction of a 120-bed Community Living Center Complex that replaces its now outdated long-term living spaces, the renovation of its now dilapidated 50-bed Domiciliary facility where veterans live for 3-6 months before re-entering the community after receiving assistance for homelessness, substance abuse, or mental or behavior health therapy, and the renovation of building 3 to improve rehab and physical therapy offerings, as well as other upgrades. The senators’ successful push for Phase II funding is the culmination of a multi-year effort to save the Canandaigua VA from plans by the VA in 2003 to close the facility and to instead invest in the Canandaigua VA campus so that a new state-of-the-art facility can serve Rochester Finger Lakes veterans for decades to come. Schumer and Gillibrand expressed just how important this funding will be for veterans across the Rochester-Finger Lakes region, and vowed to always fight on behalf of Rochester area veterans to help them receive the care they need and deserve. Today’s announcement represents another positive step in the process: funding the construction of Phase II projects that will expand the availability of convenient, high-quality medical care for Rochester area veterans, stave off any future attempts to close the facility, and make the 85 year old, 150-acre VA campus more efficient and cost-effective to operate.
The $190 million that Senators Schumer and Gillibrand secured for Phase II would construct several new buildings and renovate several others to improve care and upgrade services for local veterans. Specifically, Phase II will include:
1) Construction of a new Community Living Center (CLC) complex that will provide long-term housing with geriatric and hospice care for 120 veterans as well as a new veterans Community Center. 10 new “small houses” or cottages will be built on the VA campus, each with room for 12 residents to replace the campus’ now outdated long-term living spaces. In a Community Living Center (CLC), VA provides up to nursing home level of care, which includes help with activities of daily living (e.g., bathing and getting dressed) and skilled nursing and medical care. Veteran residents can receive long-term recovery care, mental health treatment, and geriatric care. Unlike many nursing homes in the past, a CLC resembles “home” as much as possible. There are activities for veterans of all ages. There are family friendly places for visiting. These 10 new “small houses” will replace the Canandaigua VA’s current long-term care housing facilities which are outdated.
o Within the CLC Complex, they will also construct a new Veteran Community Center that will serve as a modern central shared gathering place for various veteran and community activities.
2) Renovation and modernization of the existing 50-bed Domiciliary facility that provides short-term (3-6 months) housing for veterans while they recover from substance abuse, homelessness, and mental/behavioral health concerns. The existing Domiciliary is among the buildings in the worst shape on the Canandaigua campus and most in-need of renovations to address infrastructure and maintenance issues. Many of the patient rooms lack bathrooms and are not designed to support 21st century level of care.
• Veteran residents in the Domiciliary get a place to heal from problems with substance abuse, homelessness or vocational challenges. While living here the VA establishes a treatment plan that prepares the Veteran with the skills needed to maintain a better quality of life on a permanent basis. Over the course of three to six months, new behaviors are developed to foster independence and success upon reentering the community.
3) Renovate Building 3 to improve Rehab & Physical Therapy offerings, renovate Building 4 to support Outpatient/Administrative/Logistics support functions of the Campus, and renovate the Building 5 ventilation system.
The new outpatient clinic is currently set to open in 2022. With the additional $190 million in federal funding secured, the VA will begin advertising for contractors for Phase II as early as the fourth quarter of 2018, with a contract to be awarded in the spring of 2019. This will allow Phase II of the project to be completed by the end of 2023.
The senators explained that the securing of the final $190 million needed to complete Phase II would take the VA campus to the next level for the benefit of Rochester area veterans and their families. They also proclaimed that the second phase of the operation would serve as an economic boon to the region, creating high-paying construction jobs for the duration of the project, as well as many more career opportunities in the healthcare industry over the coming years. The announcement comes on the heels of Schumer’s visit to the Canandaigua Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Campus earlier this year.
The VA originally announced in 2007 that it would initiate a major reconstruction project to modernize the Canandaigua VA Medical Center in order to provide state-of-the-art care and meet the needs of current and future veterans. This announcement came after Schumer, local veterans, and the community, in 2003-2004, convinced the VA’s Capital Asset Realignment for Enhancement Services (CARES) Commission to reverse its recommendation to close the Canandaigua Medical Center. To begin the redevelopment project, Schumer secured $36.58 million in FY 2010 to complete a new campus master plan. In 2013, Schumer wrote to then VA Secretary Shinseki to include funding for the site in their budget request. In 2014, Schumer announced the VA agreed to this request and would seek the necessary $122.4 million, which Schumer then helped secure as part of the FY 2015 omnibus spending bill. Altogether the $161M Phase I scope of work includes building a new 84,200 sq. ft. three-story modern Outpatient Clinic in now undeveloped space between buildings 1 and 2, as well as upgrades to utilities, access roads, parking and construction of additional state-of-the-art updates. Schumer said the construction and completion of this vital project will not only bring area veterans the upgraded facilities and care they require near their homes, but will also provide a significant local investment to positively impact the regional economy.
Schumer explained the $161 million Phase I of the major Canandaigua VA Campus Modernization redevelopment is now underway, and set to be completed by the end of 2021. Senator Schumer helped deliver $161 million that funded Phase I’s design, construction, and asbestos removal. Schumer announced in January that local Rochester contractor Pike Construction, through a joint development with another contractor PJ Dick, was awarded the $143,698,000 Phase I construction contract.