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Construction under way at Menlo Park VA

New nursing home, radiology center expected to open by 2010

The Menlo Park VA expects to complete several construction and renovation projects by the end of the year, aimed at expanding the campus' services, and meeting standards for seismic safety.

The two biggest projects are: a new, $33 million nursing home, and the conversion of a building into a teleradiology center, allowing specialists to read diagnostic images from veterans' hospitals across the country.

The nursing home project is part of a long-term plan to replace buildings on the campus that don't meet standards for seismic safety, according to Facility Planner Katelin Haver. The facility, which the VA officially refers to as a "community living center," will replicate the functions of the building that now houses elderly patients with dementia and Alzheimer's disease, Ms. Haver said.

The new nursing home, contained in several buildings, will go in at the northeast corner of the VA campus, off Willow Road, just south of U.S. 101. In designing the facility, the VA worked to give it a residential feel, in contrast to the more "institutional" existing structure, according to Ms. Haver. Residents will have greater access to outdoor space, and more privacy, she said.

The building that currently houses elderly patients with dementia and Alzheimer's disease will be temporarily converted to offices for some of the administrators displaced by construction at the VA's Palo Alto campus, according to spokeswoman Kerri Childress.

Teleradiology center

The VA is renovating another building on the campus to serve as the teleradiology center.

The program is currently housed in a facility in San Bruno. In 2008, radiologists "reviewed and interpreted more than 17,000 cases from VA hospitals all over the country," Ms. Childress said. Consolidating the radiology program in a single location makes for a more efficient system, she said.

The building will house equipment and scan reading rooms, as well as administrative offices. The renovation will also entail the creation of new parking, and the "reconfiguration" of a road, according to Ms. Haver.

Demolishing shelter

The VA is also planning to demolish a building that now serves as two homeless shelters: InnVision's Clara Mateo shelter, and a privately run shelter for homeless veterans.

Ms. Childress said the VA will work to find new facilities for the shelter for veterans, because it complements the services offered by the VA, such as drug rehabilitation programs.

InnVision, however, will have to find a new location for the Clara Mateo shelter elsewhere. The nonprofit announced that the shelter was facing closure as of late 2008 due to the slackening pace of donations, but has continued to operate the shelter at reduced capacity.

In addition to the new nursing home, the VA also expects to complete work in the fall on two structures that will support the campus' infrastructure: an engineering building, and a warehouse that will support "emergency management preparedness," Ms. Haver said.

Because funding is allocated to each VA campus on a project-by-project basis, she said, the VA does not have a time frame for prospective construction projects. A new outpatient mental health facility is a priority, but that facility is "several years out" from receiving funding, she said.

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