$87M veterans home planned; 200-plus bed facility coming to Orangeburg | Local

A new $ 87.3 million veteran nursing home is planned in Orangeburg County.

The house is needed because the nearby facilities are full of waiting lists, said Kenisha Grimes, Orangeburg County’s Veteran Affairs Officer.

“Many Orangeburg County’s vets are housed in private facilities,” Grimes said. “With this new veterans home, it will save many veterans money. Your families don’t have to travel that far to see loved ones. “

“Private pay facilities weigh on the families of many veterans who cannot afford them,” Grimes continued.

The Orangeburg nursing home is said to have between 200 and 220 beds in a mixture of private and semi-private rooms.

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It would be located on US 301 at Exit 154 of Interstate 26.

Grimes said Orangeburg County is in an ideal central location.

It is about 35 miles from the nearest veterans hospital and even closer to a private hospital.

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The area also offers easy access to the facility due to its proximity to a motorway exit.

“It will bring jobs to the area and also support the local colleges that offer nursing programs,” she said.

The new State Veterans Nursing Home is designed to meet the needs of veterans who will reach retirement age over the next two decades.

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The home would be funded by the federal and state governments under the VA State Home Construction Grant Program.

It is forecast that federal funding could be available for the house by federal fiscal year 2031 if it is included in the VA priority list for federal fiscal year 2023, according to the SC Department of Mental Health.

The SCDMH recommended building a new veterans home in the county.

The recommendation was based on a request by the state’s Joint Bond Review Committee that the department identify the need and feasibility of additional state veterans’ homes.

The JBRC is a 10-member legislative body that oversees government capital improvement projects.

The JBRC approved the SCDMH’s recommendation late last year.

Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, who sits at the JBRC, says she has been campaigning for a veterans nursing home in Orangeburg County for some time.

“A few years ago the late Howard Metcalf, former state director for veterans affairs, suggested to me that Orangeburg County would be an excellent location for a nursing home,” said Cobb-Hunter. “I agreed and then started working on a facility approval for the county.”

Metcalf made the proposal based on their knowledge and experience of the needs of veterans in the area, said Cobb-Hunter, D-Orangeburg.

“I was thrilled when the recommendation to build the next facility in Orangeburg County was approved and I see this as the next step in my efforts to ensure Orangeburg County gets its fair share,” said Cobb-Hunter. “The process is just beginning, of course, and I will remain vigilant to make sure this facility becomes a reality.”

The SCDMH estimates the basic costs of the house built in the federal financial year 2031 at 87.3 million US dollars. It would be funded by the Federal VA for $ 56.7 million, with the state providing $ 30.6 million.

The SCDMH will submit the state portion of the funding in its capital budget for fiscal year 2022-2023.

“While the agency awaits state and federal funding for the facility, the agency will work with Orangeburg County officials to identify and secure a suitable location for the future SVNH,” said Mark Binkley, director of government and legislative affairs of the SCDMH.

Orangeburg County was selected for the new veterans home for the following reasons:

• The projected number of veterans over 65 years of age

• Location of existing houses

• Geographical features, including locations within evacuation zones, accessibility for veterans and their families, and availability of appropriate healthcare workers

“Orangeburg County is known as the Global Logistics Triangle because of its location,” said Cobb-Hunter. “This plays a key role in gaining access to veterans who live in a number of counties near Orangeburg.”

“For Orangeburg County veterans in need of this level of care, the facility would eliminate the need for out-of-pocket expenses that some veterans currently have to pay to receive such care in private facilities,” she said. “It would also help address the waiting lists at the Columbia and Walterboro facilities.”

Veterans

Orangeburg County has approximately 6,066 veterans according to the 2020 census. Around 3,102 are over 65 years old.

By 2030, the county is expected to have 4,919 veterans, including 2,741 over 65. By 2040, the county is expected to have 3,828 veterans, including 2,029 over 65.

While the county is expected to rank 20th in the number of veterans 65 and older in the coming decades, it either borders or is geographically accessible to six of the 13 counties, according to an SCDMH study.

There are 1,031 veterans in Calhoun County, of whom 501 are over 65. By 2030, there will be 941 veterans, 555 over 65, and by 2040 788, of whom 460 are over 65.

There are currently 1,210 veterans in the Bamberg district, 645 of them over 65. In 2030 there are to be 1,060 veterans, of which 598 over 65, and in 2040 there are expected to be 870, of which 436 over 65.

location

Orangeburg County is relatively close to coastal counties with many veterans aged 65 and over, but far removed from evacuation zones.

Currently, all or part of six of the 20 veteran populated counties are locked in coastal evacuation zones: Beaufort, Berkeley, Charleston, Dorchester, Georgetown, and Horry.

SCDMH estimated that it could cost up to 20% more to build to the evacuation zone’s construction specifications.

occupation

Cobb-Hunter says the veteran nursing home is a game changer for the county and veterans in the area.

“In addition to improving the quality and level of services available to veterans, the economic impact and human resource development opportunities are significant,” said Cobb-Hunter. “The number of jobs created and the outsourcing of other facilities built to maintain the facility will have a positive impact on the local economy.”

Orangeburg County has several higher education institutions and nursing pipeline programs that can help meet health worker needs. The county is home to South Carolina State University, Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College and Claflin University, with Denmark Technical College nearby in the Bamberg district.

Cobb-Hunter said these institutions will have the opportunity “to work with the facility to secure student internships, internships and other hands-on experiences that will help grow the health care workforce.”

“I also think that the untapped research potential in a number of areas may lead to exciting treatment applications in the future,” said Cobb-Hunter.

Nursing home

landscape

The SCDMH currently operates three elderly care homes – in Columbia, Anderson and Walterboro. A fourth house has been licensed by the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control in Florence.

Construction of a fifth house in Cherokee County has been completed, and that facility is awaiting DHEC license before accepting new residents, Binkley said.

The VA has approved conditional grant funding for a home construction project in Sumter County that will be the state’s sixth veteran nursing home. The project is on schedule to meet grant requirements, with construction expected to begin in late spring 2022.

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SCDMH also filed an application with the VA for an additional construction grant for a home in Horry County, under the previous direction of the JBRC.

That application has not yet been approved for VA funding, Binkley said.

“Meanwhile, the Department of Mental Health has been working with Horry County officials to find a convenient location for the future facility, which will become the state’s seventh SVNH,” said Binkley.

Based on population projections for 2020, the state will need 1,089 beds.

Following the opening of the new state veterans homes in the Florence and Cherokee counties, the state will have 738 state nursing home beds, with an additional 208 beds approved for future construction in the Sumter and Horry counties.

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