A new VA Medical Center building in Batavia is among the many recommendations made by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in a report released on Monday to a federal legislature-backed Asset and Infrastructure Review Commission.
The Batavia hospital (photo above) is part of the department’s VISN O2, which lists seven regions – Eastern, Central, Western, Finger Lakes, Long Island, Metro New York and New Jersey. Batavia and the Buffalo VA Medical Center comprise the Western region.
The report calls for tearing down the medical centers in both Batavia and Buffalo and building new ones to meet veterans’ health care needs in a changing market.
When considering the Batavia VAMC, it recommends modernizing and realigning the Richmond Avenue facility by modernizing the outpatient space.
From the report:
“The Batavia VAMC was built in 1932, with FCA (Facility Condition Assessment) deficiencies totaling approximately $31.8M and annual operations and maintenance costs totaling an estimated $4.1M. In FY 2019, there were 54,134 enrollees within 60 minutes of the Batavia VAMC.
“The primary care and specialty care clinic at the Batavia VAMC is space-constrained and not designed to support patient-aligned care teams (PACTs); the current infrastructure and layout do not meet modern health care standards. As outpatient service demand is projected to increase across the market, the existing facility is inadequate to meet demand and insufficient to support functional space requirements.
“The Batavia VAMC has 12.0 acres available for additional development. Relocating and expanding outpatient services to a purpose-built, rightsized facility on the Batavia VAMC campus will meet the growing needs of the Veteran population.”
An overview of the Batavia VAMC operation shows that it has 80 Community Living Center beds and 32 Residential Rehabilitation Treatment Program beds.
The report indicates that the Western market had 40,444 enrollees in fiscal year 2019, but is projected to see a 15.8 percent decrease in enrolled veterans by fiscal year 2029. The largest enrollee populations are in the counties of Erie, Niagara, and Cattaraugus.
Furthermore, demand for inpatient medical and surgical services is expected to decrease by 13,9 percent and the demand for inpatient mental health services is projected to decrease by 11.0% between FY 2019 and FY 2029.
As a result, recommendations to reduce the RRTP capacity in Batavia from 32 to 28 beds “will better address current and projected demand.”
A story in The Buffalo News on Monday provided details about the recommendations for the Buffalo VAMC, with VA Secretary Denis McDonough stating that a new facility is warranted “because the current hospital is dated and because the population of veterans in the area is projected to remain high.”
The story noted that the VA proposes building a $1 billion hospital in Buffalo to replace the current facility on Bailey Avenue that opened in 1949 because it “is too big, too old and poorly located.”
Per the VA report, "Relocating the Buffalo VAMC near or in the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus will enhance innovation, collaborative care, research and educational opportunities with local community institutions, including with VA’s academic affiliate, the State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo."
The Buffalo News story also indicated that the Batavia hospital would become "a hub for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder."