New Orlando VA Hospital Opening Delayed…Again

Yesterday, the Orlando Business Journal reported (story HERE) that construction on the new VA Hospital here in Orlando has been slow and will push back the completion date, again, to December 2014.

The project has been plagued with problems from the very beginning. From lack of boots on the ground working on the badly needed facility, to conflicts over blueprints and materials between the construction company and the Department of Veterans Affairs. The finger pointing has been continuous and the progress has been slow.

There have been Congressional hearings from the Central Florida Delegation of House Representatives but it hasn’t made a difference. The date has been pushed back several times from it’s original completion date of 2012. Everyone is talking but the hammers don’t seem to be swinging fast enough for the VA to hit any of it’s projected completion dates

Right now, Orlando area Veterans have to use to VA clinic in Winter Park which is an older building with cramped facilities and an overworked staff. Vets are subject to long wait times on telephone triage before even getting the opportunity to attempt to schedule and appointment. Then they’re asked to gauge their condition on the pain scale (1-10) before being written in to see their primary care provider which can leave them waiting up to a month to actually get care. Patient advocates are absent and usually of little help when finally contacted.

I know this because I’ve been through it.

Still, there has been some progress with other components of the facility. The nursing home in the area has opened and the 60 bed domiciliary care unit for rehabbing vets is due to open next month.

That is, if there are no delays with that as well.

The VA Hospital Opening Date has been delayed again until 2014. Photo by OBJ

The VA Hospital Opening Date has been delayed again until 2014. Photo by OBJ

Mica says part of Orlando VA Hospital will open early 2014

******READ FULL STORY HERE**************

In a release sent out today, Congressman John Mica R-FL7-Winter Park announced that part of the new Orlando Veterans Hospital will open in late January or early February, marking progress in the troubled construction of the badly needed facility.

**************READ FULL STORY HERE************

Mica said a portion of the new VA Hospital would open early next year

Mica said a portion of the new VA Hospital would open early next year

Florida Politics Saturday Social Media Round-Up 8-17-13

Here are the best Social Media offerings from your Lawmakers this week!

We start off with an Old School photo from Florida Governor Rick Scott taken back when his children were younger. Look at the hair on the Guv. This photo was posted on FB.

Scott old school daughters

Next we’ve got Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs helping out a school crossing guard. Thousands of children in the area returned to school this week and thousands more will follow next week. This photo was posted on her FB page.

Jacobs Crossing Guard

Here we have Jacobs’ former colleague State Rep. Linda Stewart doing her part on a community housing project. Always good to see the politicians picking up a hammer or in this case a brush.

Stewart painting

Then we have Congressman Daniel Webster who recently toured construction of the troubled VA Hospital that was suppose to have been completed early last year. Webster posted this photo along with this message on FB.

“The continued construction delays at Orlando Veterans’ Affairs Medical Center are a disservice to the more than 300,000 Central Florida veterans and their families who deserve to have promises made turn into promises kept. The VA’s mismanagement of the early stages of the project have left it well over two years behind schedule and hundreds of millions of dollars over budget. Solving these problems continues to be the subject of congressional hearings, oversight visits and discussions with the VA project management team, and will remain one of my top priorities.”

Webster VA Hospital

Finally we’ve got Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, who participated in “Give Life Orlando” day Blood Drive. He posted this photo on FB during the event.

Dyer Drive

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President Obama to Visit Orlando on Saturday

In his first major visit to Orlando since campaign season last year, the Orlando Sentinel is reporting that President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will be visiting the City Beautiful to address a Veterans Convention on Saturday.

The President made Bi-weekly visits to the I4 Corridor en route to his re-election last year, there were speeches at the UCF Arena, Rollins College, and a few of his signature “Drop Ins” that saw him dining at a Puerto Rican eatery on the East Side, and a Pizza parlor on the Space Coast where the signature Bear Hug from the restaurant’s owner took place.

It worked and Florida went “blue” a second time for the President.

This visit won’t be as easy for the President, with D.C under constant scrutiny amidst multiple scandals, a budget showdown, and the audience-specific endless back log from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Right here in Central Florida, we have the stalled VA Hospital at Lake Nona which has overshot it’s anticipated completion day by over a year and has resulted in finger pointing between the VA and Private Contractors, and even more frustration for 1.6 million Vets that call Florida home that don’t have easy access to comprehensive medical care.

More recently, there were the President’s remarks on Trayvon Martin and the George Zimmerman trial, which took place less than 25 miles from where the President will be speaking on Saturday. 2 weeks ago, he compared himself to the 17 year old that lost his life in an altercation to Zimmerman, who was ultimately found not guilty.

I’ll have a full write-up of the President’s remarks as soon as he’s done on Saturday.

This photo from the President's visit to Central Florida last year got national attention

This photo from the President’s visit to Central Florida last year got national attention

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Thursday Morning Political Headlines: Orlando VA Hospital Delays and Scott’s Cabinet Tour Nemours

It’s Thursday and the main story this morning is the continuing problems surrounding the construction of the new VA Hospital, here in the Orlando area, off of Lake Nona.

The facility, which thousands of local Veterans have patiently waited for, has been an epic parade of mistakes, set-backs, and finger pointing between the VA and the contractor.

Now the date being thrown around is April 14th with patients from nearby Lake Baldwin, eligible for care months later and new patients eligible approximately 7 months later.

Original estimates had the Hospital completed in 2012.

Florida Governor Rick Scott and his cabinet, consisting of Attorney General Pam Bondi, CFO Jeff Atwater, and Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam had their meeting here in Orlando, then toured the Nemours Children’s hospital. We’ve got video of that.

These are your Thursday morning Political Headlines.

WOFL FOX 35: VA hospital not likely to be completed before April 2014

Orlando Sentinel: VA says it learned mistakes from Orlando Hospital

WFTV 9 Eyewitness News: (Video) Gov. Scott cabinet meets in Orlando, tours Nemours hospital

CF News 13: In Depth: Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer on failed stadium bill

WKMG Local 6: (CNN) In spoof video, Christie pokes fun of fleece, 2016

WESH 2: (CNN) Sanford will no longer appear in court for trespassing