By Charmain Z. BrackettJune 22, 2010
FORT GORDON, Ga. -- Construction is underway here on the 21-room Charlie Norwood Veterans Affair Medical Center Fisher House.
"Construction began the first week of June," said VA spokeswoman, Janice Kennedy.
Officials broke ground on the facility in December after about three years of talks and fundraising. It will take between 12 and 18 months before the project is complete, said Kennedy. She doesn't have an exact date, but expects it will fall closer to the 12 month target range.
Francisco Cruz Jr., the manager of the Dwight David Eisenhower Army Medical Center Fisher House on Fort Gordon, said the new Fisher House can't come soon enough.
"For the past several months, we've been almost at 100 percent capacity," he said.
Six of the seven families currently staying in the house have loved ones at the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center's active duty rehabilitation unit, and they have had to stay at the Fisher House for several weeks.
"In the past month, we've had no checkouts," he said.
Cruz said they have a few families on the waiting list.
The VA draws long-term patients from a wide geographic area.
"The Charlie Norwood VA is a highly complex medical center and provides specialized long term treatment for the southeast region in spinal cord injury, blind rehabilitation and medical rehabilitation. We are the only VA facility with a fully dedicated Active Duty Rehabilitation Unit through a unique sharing agreement with the Department of Defense. Active-duty personnel from all over the United States are treated here," said Kennedy.
Having families near a patient is important for the recovery process research has indicated.
"Many families could not afford to stay in a hotel to be near their loved one. There will be no charge to stay at the Fisher House," said Kennedy.