Estimated completion of Silverdale VA clinic pushed back to fall 2019
Construction on the future VA Puget Sound community-based outpatient clinic in Silverdale is well underway, although a number of factors have already pushed back the clinic's anticipated completion date by six months.
Contract negotiations, construction drawing finalizations and a weeks-long unionized worker strike all contributed to the delays to the project's original estimated end date of April 2019, said VA Puget Sound spokeswoman Tami Begasse.
The clinic should be completed sometime next fall, "provided that no other additional delays occur," Begasse said.
Ground was broken on the project in April, and construction began in earnest in August at the site where the clinic will stand at 9177 Ridgetop Boulevard, right in the middle of the county's commercial hub, with access to Clear Creek and the neighboring hiking trail.
Since then, the initial site and ground work has been completed, with the first layers of parking asphalt, electrical and preliminary plumbing put in place, Begasse said.
On Thursday, contractors poured the facility's 22,000-square-foot concrete slab, said senior project manager Kerry Chamberlin, with FPH Construction.
"Construction is going well, and we're close to being on schedule," he said. "Now the slab is down, we'll soon start erecting a steel structure."
Passersby to the construction site should see signs of that construction in the coming weeks, said Mike Brown, president of FPH Construction.
"We'll stabilize it for winter, and then you'll start to see vertical construction," Brown said. "There's probably a week's worth of prep work to the floor to prevent cracking, put down sealers."
Brown estimated construction could be done by October 2019.
Once construction is finished, the clinic will be a 15,000-square-foot, one-story building with a large lobby space, a covered drop-off area and a parking with more than 90 spots.
That clinic will be able to provide service to the estimated 37,000 veterans in the area who are eligible to receive health care from the existing, over-capacity clinic in Bremerton.
"We anticipate being able to meet the needs of our veterans in that area upon the opening of the new clinic," Begasse said. "We also have a robust network of community providers we partner with in the event health care demand exceeds our capacity to deliver it wholly in our facility."
U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, introduced a bipartisan piece of legislation last week that seeks to ensure veterans have access to quality care at community-based outpatient clinics across the country.
While the Veterans Health Administration owns and operates most of the VA's community clinics, including Kitsap's current Bremerton and future Silverdale clinics, a number of them are operated by contractors, which has created disparate levels of care, according to a Government Accountability Office report published in April.
That report found inconsistent oversight at community clinics presented a risk that the VA "is not providing one standard of care that is of high quality to veterans across VHA-operated and contracted CBOCs," the report said.
If passed, the legislation would direct Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie to implement oversight requirements that would require all of the VA's contracted community-based outpatient clinics to adhere to clearly-defined, standardized levels of patient care.
"If you serve your country, it should have your back. When veterans walk into a VA facility, they should know they’re going to receive a level of care that’s worthy of the service and sacrifice they gave to our nation," Kilmer said. "With this bill, Congress can make sure every VA facility is held to the high standards the American public expects the country to provide its veterans."
The legislation has been referred to committee for consideration. Kilmer said he hopes it will move on without much opposition.
"My priority is that Kitsap County has a new CBOC," Kilmer said. "That facility is part of the reason we've been so aggressive, because the existing facility is inadequate and does not have a high-quality standard of care. We want Silverdale open as soon as possible for that high-quality care."
For years, the VA Puget Sound has sought to build a larger clinic in Kitsap County to address the backlog and long wait times at the existing 6,000-square-foot VA clinic at 925 Adele Ave. in Bremerton.
VA Puget Sound elected a former Rite Aid building on Kitsap Way in Bremerton to be the site of a new clinic in October 2015. But the project was waylaid when it was discovered the building wasn't up to federal seismic standards. The VA terminated the lease for that facility in January 2017 and headed back to the drawing board before selecting the Silverdale site in July.
The VA opened a temporary administrative office at 2771 Hemlock St. in Bremerton in March to alleviate some of the strain on the Bremerton clinic until the Silverdale clinic begins providing care to patients.
Once the Silverdale clinic becomes operational, VA Puget Sound anticipates closing both the Bremerton clinic and the administrative office.
By: Julianne Stanford
Source: Kitsap Sun
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