Montana's VA Health Care System is planning several major construction and expansion projects at its medical facilities in Helena and across the state.
Funded by Congressional appropriations, the projects in Helena, Missoula and Great Falls are scheduled to take place over the next few years. While the costs are currently unknown, “it is a very significant amount,” according to Kirby Ostler, assistant director and interim public affairs officer for the Montana VA.
In February, the Montana VA announced that it was working to address a shortage of primary care providers in Helena and statewide. Ostler said the upcoming projects are not about gaining more employees, but rather expanding physical space and retrofitting specific buildings so they will be up to code.
Tentatively scheduled to open this summer, Fort Harrison will get a new 18,000-square-foot facility that will house primary care in support of the Patient Aligned Care Team.
By spring 2019, the VA plans to open a new three-story, 80,000-square-foot building to house all acute inpatient care and complete a seismic retrofit of the main hospital and other buildings that make up the Medical Center Complex in Helena. Significant portions of the complex will also be renovated as part of this project.
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Fort Harrison will also get a new 14,000-square-foot outpatient mental health facility with a tentative start date of spring 2020. Built to provide support for mental health, substance abuse and homelessness issues, the new building will consolidate the previously disparate areas together under one roof.
The Missoula VA clinic will have an expanded space for primary care, behavioral health and specialty care services in what the VA calls a “right-sized, state-of-the-art, energy efficient health care facility for veterans' needs.”
Great Falls’ VA clinic will receive more area for primary care, behavioral health and “increased Telehealth space to support specialty care,” according to a VA press release.
Start dates for the projects in Missoula and Great Falls have not yet been specified, pending site selection.