Local News

Report Cites Traffic Concerns Near Preferred VA Hospital Site

The federal government is likely to move ahead soon with purchasing property on Brownsboro Road to build Louisville’s new VA hospital. But first, officials are waiting for the completion of an environmental assessment later this month.

The assessment covers more than a dozen direct, indirect and cumulative effects the hospital will have on the area near the I-264 interchange. This includes environmental, cultural, and geological issues. The public will have a chance to comment on the report until April 29, and VA’s Bob Morey said he expects the property to be purchased within a month.

Local News

VA Narrows Search for Site of New Veterans Hospital

The federal government has narrowed down its options for the site of a new veterans hospital in Louisville.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has selected a site on Brownsboro Road as the preferred site for the new VA Medical Center. The location is close to the Watterson Expressway and within close proximity to the current veterans’ hospital and the downtown University of Louisville Hospital. The second choice for the hospital is an undeveloped site at St. Joseph.

Originally, five locations were in consideration—the options included reconfiguring the existing VA medical center and locating downtown by the U of L Hospital.

In a statement Mayor Greg Fischer stressed the importance of the hospital to the city and said it’s important to begin construction on the facility.

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Public Meetings Set On VA Hospital Site List

Officials will hold two public meetings tomorrow to provide information and take public input on where to build a new Veterans Affairs hospital in Louisville.

Facility Planner Bob Morey says the meetings will be held from 1:00-3:00pm and 6:00-8:00pm at the Clifton Center on Payne Street.

“We’re going to have a third-party moderator that actually runs the meeting. I will be providing the slide presentation and we will have a panel of subject matter experts to answer questions,” he said.

Five years ago, then Secretary of Veterans Affairs James Nicholson announced that a new VA hospital would be built in Louisville. Many expected then that it would be located near University Hospital, but officials are now considering four other sites, including land adjacent to the present hospital on Zorn Avenue.

Local News Politics

New VA Hospital Timeline Awaits Decision About Location

3rd District Representative John Yarmuth says the timetable for the long-planned new Veterans Affairs hospital in Louisville will depend on the location, and a location should be announced this fall.

Elected officials and veterans have been at odds over the best location for the hospital. Many Louisville officials want it to be downtown near other hospitals. Many veterans want it to replace the current hospital on Zorn Avenue, near the interstate. Still others have proposed splitting the inpatient and outpatient services, and putting one downtown and the other on Zorn Avenue. Yarmuth says the VA is considering those options, and looking into a few other sites around the county.

“They’re analyzing all of these sites based on the criteria that they have and the criteria are pretty extensive and actually very logical.”

Yarmuth says the VA will make its decision in September. He adds that if the hospital is to be constructed at one of the proposed suburban locations, the overall construction would be quicker and the hospital could open in 2016. If the VA decides to build the new facility downtown or on Zorn Avenue, the process would be more difficult and the hospital would not open until 2019.

“The earlier date would be if a suburban site is selected,” says Yarmuth “because that would make the acquisition process, the acquisition of the land, much easier and obviously you wouldn’t have to do much site preparation; so the whole process would move faster.”

Yarmuth says most veterans would prefer the Zorn Avenue option, but the Administration is considering a lot of criteria to make a logical decision. Access, cost and nearby amenities are all factors.

Local News Politics

U.S. Drug Czar Visiting Kentucky This Week

The top anti-drug official in the nation will be in Louisville tomorrow.

White House Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske—who is informally called the country’s Drug Czar—will stop in the city as part of a trip through Kentucky.

Kerlikowske and Congressman John Yarmuth will meet with patients and doctors at the VA Substance Abuse treatment center in the veteran’s hospital. The two will then talk with local law enforcement officials in downtown Louisville.

Kerlikowske is also visiting Lexington, London and Pikeville this week. In an op-ed published Sunday, Senator Mitch McConnell said he wanted the drug czar to visit eastern Kentucky, where prescription pill abuse is rampant.

Local News

Location for New VA Hospital Debated

Government officials are awaiting the results of a feasibility study on potential sites for a new Veterans Affairs Hospital in Louisville

The feasibility study will look into three options for the facility: replace the existing hospital on Zorn Avenue, build an new hospital downtown, or build an in-patient facility downtown and an out-patient facility on Zorn.

University of Louisville Vice-President for Health Affairs Dr. Larry Cook says it’s most important for the facility to be near the downtown medical center.

“This is the place where limbs are reattached, where artificial hearts are placed, where vaccines are created to prevent cancer and where drugs are developed to cure cancer,” says Cook.

But opponents to the downtown location say the site is too busy and confusing for veterans who will be visiting the hospital from other cities.

The VA Hospital was the topic of discussion at Wednesday’s Louisville Forum.