The VA, albeit virtually, turns over the dirt to launch a new outpatient clinic in Ocala
They had hard hats, faux gold-plated shovels and actual dirt.
But this particular ground-breaking was different from other shovel-thrusting ceremonies in that it was done via video because of COVID-19.
Nonetheless, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs officials proudly announced the start of a new outpatient clinic in Marion County.
The North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System, headquartered in Gainesville, is building a new 45,499 square-foot clinic at 4826 S.W. 49th Road in Ocala.
VA officials said the plan is to combine the agency’s two current facilities in Ocala, one in The Cascades on East Silver Springs Boulevard and the other in the 3300 block of Southwest 26th Avenue.
The new clinic will offer all the services found at both: primary care medicine as well as mental health treatment, audiology, optometry, podiatry, pharmaceutical, nutrition guidance, specimen collection, social work and telehealth services. It is expected to open next summer.
The cost of the facility has not been disclosed. The Doster Construction Co. in Birmingham will build it.
The VA posted a video of the groundbreaking event on Facebook.
In the post, Dr. Jose Torres-Rodriguez, chief medical officer for the clinic, said the new facility will serve more than 10,000 veterans in Ocala and throughout surrounding areas.
DeShannon Mosley, the clinic’s administrative officer, said the new facility is a win for government efficiency by combining aspects of care that are now five miles apart. “This is a huge achievement for our veterans, having all our services co-located under one roof. This will make patient-care experience that much better,” she said.
U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster, R-Clermont, said, “The services provided by this clinic and the organizations and entities that serve alongside it are vital. For 20 years the Ocala clinic has strived to, in the words of (President) John Kennedy, ‘never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.’ I know the fine folks who live and serve at and around this new clinic will continue to do the same.”
U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, a Gainesville Republican whose district includes Ocala, said on Facebook, “Proud to see the virtual groundbreaking for the new VA clinic in Ocala. Our veterans will be getting a state-of-the-art clinic and they deserve it.”