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OSU helps bring new veterans hospital to Tulsa

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The state announced Sunday that President Trump signed a law that approved $120 million in federal funding for a Veterans Hospital in Tulsa.

The project, Veterans Hospital in Tulsa (VHiT), is a culmination of the federal government, state of Oklahoma, city of Tulsa, private philanthropy and Oklahoma State University all working together.

This hospital will be the first of its kind to be built under the Communities Helping Invest through Property Improvements Needed for Veterans Act of 2016 (CHIP-IN Act).

The new hospital will be located in downtown Tulsa, located at 7th and Houston, attached to the expanded OSU Medical Center Campus.

It will convert the Kerr-Edmondson Buildings on the site to a 275,000 square-foot, 58-bed medical-surgical facility for veterans.

The buildings have been transferred to OSU/A&M Regents by the state in order to be used as the main facility.

Dr. Kayse Shrum, president of the OSU Center for Health Sciences, is excited for the opportunities that this facility will bring for the state’s service members and students as well.

"Our Veterans in northeast Oklahoma deserve a much-needed, easily accessible modern medical center where they can receive quality, compassionate care in a timely manner. For OSU-CHS, it’s been a great privilege to be part of this visionary project,” Shrum said. "While caring for veterans is a top priority, the affiliation with the Veteran Affairs Hospital near our Tulsa campus will benefit our students and residents tremendously and further enhance our medical school nationally. Many physicians in practice today benefited from training at a Veteran Affairs hospital. After years of hard work and relentless determination by many civic leaders in Tulsa and local, state, and federal elected officials, we have achieved one of the most significant milestones, the funding for this project. We look forward to the start of construction and the completion of the project."

This facility will provide OSU students the opportunity to get first-hand experience working with America’s heroes, while also providing a more efficient healthcare experience for those seeking healthcare.

OSU president, Burns Hargis, praised the project for the opportunities it will provide.

“This project is special to Oklahoma State University,” said Burns Hargis, president of OSU. “We have great respect for the women and men who have served and are serving our country in defense of liberty and the pursuit of peace. We enjoy a longstanding relationship with the military, proudly graduating many students who become leaders in our armed forces. The approval of the federal funding for this project represents a significant achievement and step forward in reaching our shared goal to provide our veterans in northeast Oklahoma with an exceptional medical facility to care for them. We also appreciate the generosity of The Zarrow Family Foundations.  Without their unwavering support, this project would never have proceeded. Lastly, I recognize the leadership of Dr. Kayse Shrum, president of the OSU-Center for Health Sciences, for her visionary leadership in bringing this project forward.”

Over two-thirds of the 47,000 veterans who receive service at the Jack C. Montgomery Medical Center in Muskogee come from Tulsa, meaning that they will no longer have to make the nearly one-hour drive to Muskogee to receive medical care.

“The new VA hospital in Tulsa is a historic victory that will offer long lasting and far-reaching benefits for our Veterans, the VA and our community,” said Mark E. Morgan, MHA, FACHE, director, Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System. “By expanding services in Tulsa, EOVAHCS will be strategically positioned to provide the highest level of care to our Veterans for decades to come. This monumental expansion will also allow us to repurpose the Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center in Muskogee into a much-needed community living and behavioral health center with expanded services that are not currently offered in this area.”

The facility is set to be completed in 2024, costing nearly $130 million with $120 million coming from federal appropriation and $10 million coming from philanthropic support. The city of Tulsa has committed $8 million towards a parking garage for the facility as well.