Cleveland area VA medical services may consolidate

CLEVELAND (AP) - A member of Congress is concerned that a veterans' facility in suburban Cleveland might soon close, with its services merged into a Veterans' Administration hospital in Cleveland.
The Brecksville VA property is now used primarily for nursing home care and to house veterans who need shelter. The campus has 190 nursing-home beds, 174 beds for the homeless and an 80-bed inpatient psychiatric unit. More than 5,000 veterans receive outpatient care in Brecksville.
U.S. Rep. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, whose district includes Brecksville, planned a public meeting for Monday at the Brecksville campus to hear from veterans and others who may be concerned about the possible consolidation and whether government services will be maintained.
"They need to prove it to me and to the veterans," Brown (pictured, above) said.
The two hospitals and 12 clinics that comprise the Louis Stokes Cleveland Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center are expected to see 80,000 patients this year, Veterans Affairs spokesman David Jewel said.
Most of the jobs at Brecksville "will transfer to the facility in Cleveland," Jewel said. "For many of them (the veterans), it would be a more advantageous location. There is more of a veteran population there."
Brecksville Mayor Jerry Hruby said the suburb has been bracing for the possible closing for years. The VA center generates $700,000 to $800,000 a year in income tax for Brecksville.
Meanwhile, Ohio lawmakers want the Veterans Affairs Department to build a new medical center in Columbus because the current facility is too small and doesn't offer enough services.
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)