CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — Those visiting the Louis A Johnson VA Medical Center in Clarksburg would be hard pressed not to notice all of the construction happening at the facility. And while those projects may be an inconvenience to patients now, VAMC officials say their culmination will increase functionality within the hospital on a daily basis.

At the very front of the facility is the ongoing construction of an additional clinic for primary care, which is to be completed in less than two years.

“Our Ambulatory Care Unit (ACU), that is the main construction area, the focal point of everyone’s attention as soon as you drive up,” says Dan Young, chief of the VA’s Facilities Management Service. “That project is well underway with the foundation going in. Footers are starting at this point, and that building is going to expand to an additional 10 primary care clinics.”

While the ACU is certainly the most noticeable, the first to be completed is the Community Living Center (CLC) renovation on the facility’s fifth floor.

After a hectic few years of construction, the project is now at 90 percent completion and will be open by early spring.

“We should be moving into there sometime this year,” VAMC Director Glenn Snider said. “Of course that depends on the contractor and his timeline, but then we will have a new place for the CLC patients to reside and then we’re going to use that space on the sixth floor for even more patients.”

Other ongoing projects include an overhead paging project, the expansion of the facility’s residential rehab villas, which will house 15 veterans and thus double the enrollment in the rehab programs for PTSD and substance abuse, and modernized specialty clinics, referred to a “red firm areas,” which are currently 90 percent designed. The design documents are expected to be complete later this summer.

“It is exciting times. We’re looking forward to the Red Fern being completed so that the medical sub-specialties have the space that they need,” Snider said. “Right now they are very cramped. They are making it work, but when we have more space, we will have better flow and we can improve access even further.”

And after many years of requests, the VAMC will soon be constructing a parking garage on its campus. It’s now 100 percent designed and will straddle the main driveway coming into the facility, Young said.

“The way we’re laid out, we’re essentially landlocked and our green space is fairly limited,” he said. “So we felt straddling and taking advantage of that main driveway was our best advantage to get as many parking spaces as we could with the space we have.”

With all of these projects in the works, Snider said he’s eager to see it all come to fruition within the next few years.

“We’re excited and we’re also a little disappointed about timelines,” he said. “The one gentleman mentioned that he thought it took too long. In the federal government, projects do take a long time. If you look at interstate projects and so forth, they don’t just happen overnight like they do in the private sector. We have to follow acquisitions rules, and that does take time.”

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