Jun 22, 2010 6:55 PM by Kate Mundy
Acadiana veterans are making plans for a temporary hospital in Lafayette, but they'll need the okay from the Veteran's Administration before they can make it happen.
For more than a year, Southpark Hospital on the Youngsville Highway has sat unoccupied. "This hospital is 53,000 square feet which is just about the perfect size for the predicted need," said veteran Jim Nunn.
Nunn is part of the Veteran's Action Coalition of Acadiana. They hope to turn Southpark into a facility for rehabilitation, psychiatric services, surgeries and more. "This is a real mini hospital," said coalition Chairman Rodney Hamilton. It was built in 2004, and closed its doors on June 3, 2009.
Lafayette currently has a 15,000 square foot vet clinic in the War Memorial Building. But vets still travel more than 90 miles one-way for anything beyond lab services at the clinic. "You have to go to Pineville or Shreveport and we feel that the 60,000 veterans in Southwest Louisiana deserve better," said Hamilton.
The lease at Southpark would be just over a million dollars a year. That's 20 dollars a square foot per year. Vets say the hospital could serve as a temporary relocation site for the VA Hospital that closed in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
But their bigger goal is to get a permanent hospital, using the Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center campus when it becomes available. The Veteran's Action Coalition of Acadiana has collected more than 9-thousand signatures on petition letters to convince the administration to put the VA hospital in Lafayette.
The petition drive will continue through the end of the year. They hope to prove to the Veteran's Administration that there's a big need in Acadiana.