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VA report pushing changes to Charlie Norwood hospital

Published: Mar. 15, 2022 at 6:28 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Changes could be coming for veteran care in Augusta.

In a new report from the Department of Veterans Affairs, a committee recommends shutting down services at the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center facility downtown. The VA says it’s not up to standards.

The services would be consolidated at the Charlie Norwood uptown facility, which is off Wrightsboro Road.

Augusta is mentioned on Page 28 of the report. Recommendations are to make sure VA facilities are providing proper care.

The report lists several things that can be improved: the downtown VA facility does not meet the standards for delivering modern health care, lacks the space for growth, and has infrastructure issues.

Now, there may be more traction on this report than in the past.

The Charlie Norwood facility in downtown Augusta has towered over 15th Street since 1980. This isn’t the first time changes have been suggested.

Josh Anderson is one veteran using the downtown facility.

“I injured my back, and I have permanent nerve damage in my leg and my foot,” he said.

They’ve helped him get back on his feet after the Korean War.

“I wouldn’t be able to function as a member of society without the help I get from the VA,” said Anderson.

But having to travel back and forth between the two VA sites can get confusing.

“There are things that you have to go to the uptown facility for that they don’t offer downtown, and there are things downtown that they don’t offer uptown,” he said.

But big changes could be coming soon. The detailed report of the Georgia market suggests tearing down the downtown VA facility and moving all operations to the uptown location. More buildings and facilities would be developed because there’s more room for the growing number of patients.

“I have had nothing but great care at the VA,” he said.

Anderson and other veterans say there’s nothing wrong with the current locations. But the report shows the current hospitals need to modernize mental health resources and the blind rehabilitation unit. There’s still hesitation from veterans on how their care could be impacted.

“Would the funding be better used on the veterans themselves getting the treatments they need instead of using the funding for bricks and sticks, new buildings,” he asked.

Sen. Raphael Warnock’s staff noted that the report shows there’s room to improve facilities and care for Augusta’s veterans.

Warnock’s staff said he “looks forward to reading the report and discussing its recommendations with VA officials, Augusta veterans, and the Augusta community.”

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