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VA to buy part of Silver Cross Hospital

(JOLIET) September 16, 2010— The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is in the process of acquiring a section of Silver Cross Hospital for a future medical clinic.

silver-cross-hospitalU.S. Rep. Debbie Halvorson,said Wednesday that Veterans Affairs plans to convert the emergency center at Silver Cross into a "mega-clinic."

U.S. Rep. Debbie Halvorson, D-Crete, said Wednesday that the VA plans to convert the emergency center at Silver Cross into a "mega-clinic" that would provide primary health care, outpatient surgery, rehabilitation services, psychiatric treatment and other medical care.

"We just heard today that they are trying to acquire it," said Halvorson, who has worked with veterans on the project since before her election to Congress in 2008. "The main hurdle is done. That is convincing them to do it."

Halvorson said the veterans clinic could open soon after Silver Cross relocates to New Lenox in early 2012.

The VA would not comment Wednesday.

But a Silver Cross official confirmed the hospital is in talks with the VA for the sale of the 60,000-square-foot emergency center, which is the newest facility there.

"We're very optimistic that this will occur," said Ruth Colby, vice president of development for Silver Cross.

Local veterans proposed converting the Joliet hospital to a veterans facility soon after Silver Cross announced in July 2007 that it would move.

"Of course we were hoping for a full hospital, but this is as close as you can get," said Jim Canup, commander of American Legion Post No. 39 in Braidwood and chairman of a veterans committee working on the Silver Cross project.

Canup said a VA mega-clinic with outpatient surgery and other services mentioned would go far beyond what is provided at the existing veterans clinic in Joliet.

Joliet Mayor Arthur Schultz welcomed the news, saying, "I think all the veterans in Joliet and Will County will be glad they won't have to go to Chicago."

The Joliet clinic is expected to provide services veterans otherwise would have to receive at Hines VA Hospital in the near west suburbs.

"Having something here for our veterans is very important," said Halvorson.

Other services expected at the center, according to Halvorson, include women's health care, neurology, optometry, nutrition, dental and radiology. The clinic also could have a pharmacy.

Halvorson said the VA could add nonhealth services, such as employment counseling.



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