Veterans Affairs unveils two new wings to improve veteran care

Patrick Barron/Daily
Buy this photo

By Sydney Berger, Daily Staff Reporter
Published September 6, 2013

Ribbons were cut and renovations unveiled Friday at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System on Fuller Road, which celebrated the creation of two state-of-the-art medical units: a new emergency department and an inpatient telemetry unit for military veterans.

Congressman John D. Dingell, a WWII veteran, and Congressman Tim Walberg joined the gathering of veterans, hospital employees, volunteers and more than 150 others to celebrate the opening of the 30,000-square foot space.

Dingell said the renovations were an important project to ensure that veterans receive proper care after serving their country.

“The purpose is to see to it that the VA hospital system continues to meet the high standards that we want the VA to provide for our veterans in this superb hospital system,” Dingell said.

Derek Atkinson, a Marine Corps veteran and a public affairs officer at the Department of Veterans Affairs, opened the event by introducing invocation speaker, Chaplain Roland Schaedig, for a moment of prayer.

Robert P. McDivitt, director of the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System and an Army veteran, said the hospital’s additions are meant to “honor America’s veterans” for the sacrifices that they've made for the country.

The VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System has served more than 60,000 veterans a year since opening in 1953.

The renovations are meant to improve patient access to quality care. The project, funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, cost roughly $6.3 million and took about two years to complete.

“From where we are coming from to where we are going, it's just a completely new world for veterans,” clinical nurse manager Shannon Asperger said.

The current telemetry unit, which staff said lacked privacy, will transfer its patients to the new unit on Sept. 18. The new unit allows for higher occupancy — adding eight beds to a total of 28. The new emergency room department, which is set to open Sept. 10, will have 18 beds.

Giuseppe V. Del Giudice, who works in the hospital’s eye clinic and served four years in the Navy as a hospital corpsman, said the new additions show forward thinking on the part of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“It's a good contrast to see old and new,” Del Giudice said. “I think that's important for the community to see — the progression.”

He added: “It's like any ER you'd see at U of M or any major big hospital. That's the unbelievable part.”

Correction appended: A previous version of this article misstated the amount of veterans the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System has served since opening.