WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Texas - The Cedar Park VA clinic on Bell Boulevard simply doesn’t have enough space.
“That space was too small and there was no way they were going to survive a multi-year lease we had in place at that location,” said Christopher Sandles, medical center director with the Central Texas Veterans Healthcare System.
It's been at that location for two years, now VA officials want to expand, but what is different is, they want to integrate the VA system with the community at large.
“Gone are the days where our outpatient clinics are located in distant shopping malls, vacant banks, and not in institutions that were intended to provide healthcare,” said Sandles.
The Central Texas Veterans Healthcare System secured almost 20,000 additional square feet inside the medical office building, near the Cedar Park Regional Medical Center. The space will be used to expand healthcare services to Central Texas Veterans. The Bell Boulevard space will still be used for tele-primary care the CTVHCS said.
“For any of us who receive healthcare in the private sector, you expect certain things when you walk in the door, you expect a healing environment. Should we need to refer them to care we don't provide at this location or other sites, we can utilize the multitude of private healthcare providers,” said Sandles.
The announcement is an exciting one for U.S. Representative John Carter who has dedicated a lot of time to the topic.
“The 31st congressional district has the largest population of veterans in the state of Texas,” said Carter.
In 2014, the VA received some bad press for extraordinary long wait times and negligence for veterans.
The officials in Central Texas say they are constantly working to fix what went wrong.
“There have been a lot of headaches we got in the middle of that three or four years ago. We worked hard on it, I think we've made corrections,” said Carter.
For leaders and lawmakers, optimum healthcare something they feel is owed to America's heroes.
“It's part of what we promised people when we recruited them in the military. We promised them this was part of what they would receive as a veteran benefit," said Carter.
Carter authored a portion of the bill signed into law by President Trump, called the VA Mission Act. It will take the place of the Choice Program in 2019.