Officials promised a new era of quality health care for area veterans Monday as they broke ground for a 15,000-square-foot clinic in the heart of Vineland.
The ceremony took place just three days after New Jersey’s federal representatives announced they had lost confidence in the leadership at the Wilmington Veterans Affairs Medical Center to oversee three South Jersey clinics and that the Veterans Integrated Service Network 4 (VISN 4) staff would take over.
“This means much better care with leadership that understands the needs of our veterans in a way they did not before,” said U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-2nd Dist. “It’s all about having care closer to home.”
The congressman, a longtime champion of veterans’ causes including improved health care access, said that change in oversight will mean “leadership that understands they need to … say ‘yes’ instead of ‘no’ all the time.”
The new 15,000-square-foot clinic is at 79 W. Landis Avenue in Vineland, the corner where West Landis intersects with South West Avenue. It will contain more than 30 rooms.
The project is rehabbing and adding on to an existing building that was on the site. Work is already well under way. Monday’s ceremonial groundbreaking was held across West Landis Avenue from the work site.
The VA is paying a one-time tenant improvement cost of $1 million and then will lease the building.
The Vineland clinic is one of three in South Jersey operated by the VA. The other two are in Northfield and Cape May.
The new clinic will replace the older one at 1051 W. Sherman Avenue, also in Vineland. The new clinic will have improved waiting areas, more exam rooms, and additional space for group clinics, support groups, and expanded telehealth services, according to VA officials.
“In recent years there has been an increase in demand for VA care both nationally and in southern New Jersey. This has created a gap in the space required to support modern day health care,” said Dr. Michael D. Adelman, network director of the Veterans Integrated Service Network 4.
“Today we take a big step in closing that gap,” he said.
“The VA is committed to provide quality health care for veterans of every era,” Adelman said. He said the new clinic is part of the VA’s renewed commitment “to care for those who have served us so well.”
The project is bringing “new life to what was an empty building and new life to downtown Vineland,” said architect Ron Portadin.
Portadin added the project has allowed him and others involved to “in a very small way, serve those who have so selfishly served our country.”