FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 16, 2007

With Area Vets Still Waiting For A Decision On Future Of Canandaigua VAMC, Schumer Announces Support For Option 9 And Calls On VA Secretary To Give Local Community And Vets Update On Decision-Making Process

Option 9 will Integrate New Outpatient Clinic and Nursing Home into the Heart of Canandaigua VA Medical Center

Senator Joins Canandaigua Community, School District, Local Veterans and Officials to Support the Plan

Schumer Calls on VA Secretary to Give Veterans and Residents of Canandaigua an Update on When Decision Will be Reached

Building on his successful effort to keep the Canandaigua VA Medical Center open for area veterans, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today urged the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to adopt Business Plan Option 9 for the construction of new facilities at the Canandaigua VAMC. Schumer also called on the Secretary to improve the transparency around the decision-making process by giving local residents and veterans an update on the current status of the proposal. Option 9, one of three options sent by the Local Advisory Panel to the secretary for his consideration, benefits veterans and the community by integrating new facilities into the heart of the medical campus, while reusing existing buildings and preserving open space used by the community.

 

Schumer, arguing that Option 9 would make the greatest headway towards improving VAMC services for local veterans in need of care, today sent a letter to VA Secretary James Nicholson expressing his support for it and calling for a detailed updated on when a decision will be reached.   

 

“After extensive review, it’s crystal clear that Business Plan Option 9 provides what veterans want and need:  top-notch health care facilities on a beautiful campus that promotes healing and peace of mind,” said Senator Schumer.  “This plan provides the necessary balance between existing facilities and future facilities to guarantee that patients at the Canandaigua CA Medical Center will be well cared for. It’s also essential that we pull back the curtain on the decision-making process so local residents and veterans can have a better idea when and how a decision will be reached.”

 

The Local Advisory Panel recently put forth three plans for the construction of new facilities at the Canandaigua VA Medical Center. In October of 2006, the VA announced they would continue to study the best way to provide inpatient and outpatient services, and that they expected to have a final plan completed by the spring of 2007.  It promised that they would receive additional input from the local advisory panel as they finalize plans for the Canandaigua campus. Business Plan Option 9 is one of the three final plans being considered by the VA for implementation at the Medical Center.

 

Schumer today stressed that Business Plan Option 9, which enjoys wide community support, has several advantages over the other two plans for both veterans and the community. 

 

First, the new facilities, which include a new multi-specialty outpatient clinic and a nursing home complex, will be integrated into the heart of the existing campus. Keeping services on campus is very important to veterans and local residents. The new nursing home would be located in Courtyard 2 while the outpatient facilities and administrative space would be located in renovated buildings around Courtyard 1.  

 

Second, the plan offers an opportunity for appropriate reuse of existing buildings.  Reusing the existing Canandaigua VA campus buildings for veterans’ services is a goal for all of the stakeholders involved, and this option goes a long way toward meeting that challenge. 

 

Third, this option maintains valuable open space, which is important for the use and enjoyment of veterans and the community alike.  This is a particular advantage to Option 9 because one of the alternatives, Option 7, negatively affects the children of Canandaigua by taking away fields that are currently used by the school district and local organizations for a variety of sports and activities.

 

In a personal letter to R. James Nicholson, Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Schumer wrote, “As I have maintained throughout this process, the VA must work closely with the community to ensure that the final decision on the medical center enhances the quality of veterans’ healthcare. With this in mind, the community of Canandaigua has clearly voiced its support of Option 9. Please add my voice to the chorus of support for this plan.” 

 

Schumer today joined forces with local leaders and stakeholders in the Canandaigua community in supporting Option 9.  The City of Canandaigua, the County of Ontario, the Chamber of Commerce, the Canandaigua School District, and most importantly, area veterans have all voiced unequivocal support for this course of action.

 

Schumer also called on the VA Secretary to give local residents and veterans an update on the decision-making process. The VA is currently examining three different proposals for the VA campus. However, while residents and veterans have been patiently waiting for an update, they have been left in the dark over when a decision will be reached. Today Schumer wrote in his letter:

 

“Veterans and people of Canandaigua are eagerly anticipating the decision on where these new facilities will be located on the medical center’s campus.  However, the timeline for that decision remains vague.  I ask that you clarify the process and timeline for selection of the options that have been presented,” added Schumer.

 

Schumer has long advocated that the Canandaigua VA stay open and offer top quality services for New York veterans. Schumer has called former Secretary Tony Principi and R. James Nicholson numerous times over the past three years, lobbying to save Canandaigua VA, and its services on the current campus.  On October 20, 2003, Schumer testified before the CARES committee, stating that closing the facility would create a crisis in health care for area veterans and an economic crisis in the community. 

 

Schumer also presented the commission with a large box with 80,000 signed petitions by state residents opposed to the shutdown plan.  When Secretary Nicholson took over the VA in 2005, Schumer pressed him to support the community advisory board, and to not make changes to the board.  Nicholson assured Schumer that he would continue to support the local advisory panel examining Canandaigua.  Last year, in March 2006, Schumer urged President George W. Bush to visit the facility. Following the VA announcement about the future plans for the medical center in October of 2006, Schumer wrote a letter to Nicholson, urging to keep the Canandaigua VA Medical Center’s Acute Psychiatric Unit open, and he requested a personal meeting with the Secretary to discuss the future of the campus. 

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