Veterans Affairs officials are moving forward with plans for a new VA outpatient clinic in Wilmington.
The one hundred thousand square-foot facility will be located in the Wilmington International Airport’s business park, which will save veterans an otherwise lengthy drive to get specialized medical treatment.
“I was wounded in Vietnam, I took four bullets to the neck,” said Mervin Vaught.
To get specialized treatment for his wounds, Vaught has to drive to the VA medical clinic in Fayetteville. But that’s expected to change summer 2011.
“The VA has signed an option with the airport, and to select a site it’s a little more than 19 almost 20 acres, of land within our business park,” said Jim Morton, Wilmington International Airport’s finance director.
The new outpatient clinic in Wilmington will be ten times the size of the one on Medical Center Drive. Unlike the current facility, the new center will be equipped with a lab, pharmacy, dental clinic, and specialized services, which will save local veterans a lot of miles.
“It’s a financial burden to have to drive all the way to Fayetteville and the time-consuming, this will be great,” said David Garten.
“It gives us an opportunity to not have a long drive, along with the ailments that we have,” said Julius James.
The VA will lease the land from the airport, which is located to the left of the airport entrance.
The initial cost to lease the 20 acres is about $220,000 a year; that cost will go up each year.
Morton said the airport’s business park is a perfect location. “We are centrally located to Martin Luther King which takes you to I-40, or downtown over highway 421, so it’s easy in and easy out.”
Veteran’s Administrator Bruce Sprecher agrees.
Some Brunswick County officials had hoped for the new clinic to come to their county – and proposed the current Brunswick Community Hospital as the site.
A new Brunswick Community Hospital is opening in 2011.
No matter what the location, Vaught says he can’t wait for 2011. “I just think it’s just great, I think it’s tremendous, I think it’s the benefit of so many veterans.”
Not only is it centrally located, VA officials chose ILM’s business park because infrastructure like water, sewer, and gas lines are already in place. VA officials plan to name a developer by January. The entire project will cost roughly 95 million dollars in federal funds.