New Veterans Medical Center opens its doors

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NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) – Louisiana area Veterans are now able to receive a wide range of health care services at the new state-of-the-art Veterans hospital.

At a ribbon cutting ceremony this morning, Veterans Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald  headed a long list of dignitaries that included Senator Bill Cassidy, Gov. John Bel Edwards and Mayor Mitch Landrieu. The ceremony took place on the Galvez Street side of the Veterans medical center at the main entrance.

“The opening of this medical center is a story of a remarkable effort that started with a flooded 50-year-old medical center and ends with the construction of this magnificent new Veterans medical center,” Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System director Fernando O. Rivera said.  “Our legacy is building health care, honoring Veterans, keeping the promise and restoring hope for the future.”

Secretary McDonald spoke about the major improvements made to veterans health care.

"For those who may have tried VA in the past and had a bad experience, we say come back and retry us. Trust in the VA has gone up from 47 percent a year ago to 60 percent today. We have made it much easier for the veteran to sign up, they can now sign up via the internet or via the phone. They get standard access to care so that more veterans can come in, we have driven down the disability backlog by 90 percent," McDonald said.

The new medical center will serve an estimated 70,000 Veterans throughout the Gulf Coast region and will handle about half a million outpatient visits annually.