A new health home for veterans

Celebrating the new Malcom Randall Veterans Affairs Medical Center bed tower are (left to right) Thomas Cappello, director of the North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System, Timothy Flynn, M.D., professor and associate dean of vascular surgery at UF, Bradley Bender, M.D., professor of medicine and chief of staff at the center, and Michael L. Good, M.D., dean of the UF College of Medicine.

Four decades after opening its doors, the Malcom Randall Veterans Affairs Medical Center entered a new era Sept. 24 with the dedication of a new 245,000-square-feet bed tower located in front of the original hospital on Archer Road.

“Approximately 44 years ago Malcom Randall, first director of this facility, stood somewhere close to where we are sitting today to dedicate a new medical center,” said Thomas Cappello, M.P.H., director of the North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System. “Today’s dedication continues his dream of providing veterans with the very finest health care available.”

The upgraded building was necessary to continuing to provide veterans with the best care possible and to meet growing needs, such as an expanded emergency area and additional inpatient space for psychiatric services.

“Throughout its history, this facility has expanded to meet the needs of our growing veteran population,” Cappello said. “What originally started as a VA hospital in 1967 has grown into two medical centers and 11 outpatient clinics. Last year we cared for over 130,000 veterans throughout our system, and of those, approximately 110,000 received some care here at the Malcom Randall VA Medical Center.”

Timothy Flynn, M.D., Thomas Cappello, Bradley Bender, M.D., and Michael L. Good, M.D., pause in the building connector of the new Malcom Randall Veterans Affairs Medical Center bed tower.

The 245,000-square-foot, five-story bed tower will provide 226 private rooms and space for veterans and their family members. The first floor houses specialty clinics including ophthalmology, urology and the ear/nose/throat clinic. The new laboratory area also is housed on the first floor and provides a large waiting room and additional blood and specimen draw areas. An expanded emergency room accommodates 10 patients.

“It is really an honor to be here today to dedicate this great new building,” said U.S. Rep Cliff Stearns, who provided the keynote address at the dedication ceremony. “We are here because of our veterans and their work. This building provides resources for our veterans to have the hope and medical treatment they need.

“This new patient bed tower represents this nation’s commitment to meeting our obligations to those who served our nation, and I am proud of my support for this project.”

In addition to enhancing health care for veterans directly, the new space also provides a modern space to train the next generation of physicians and health care professionals. About 500 UF resident physicians rotate through the VA each year, as do students in the UF colleges of Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy.

“The University of Florida has been a key partner with the VA in terms of our academics in the Health Science Center in Gainesville,” said Michael Good, M.D., dean of the College of Medicine. “We have a long, strong and rich tradition of working together to educate the next generation of health care professionals.”