President Trump’s proposed budget includes $120 million for a VA hospital in downtown Tulsa.
The Veterans Hospital in Tulsa, or VHiT project, would convert the state-owned Kerr Edmondson building across Seventh Street from OSU Medical Center into a 275,000-square foot, 58-bed hospital.
"While the Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center will continue to be the light upon the hill in Muskogee, this exciting new addition, once completed, will allow us to expand needed behavioral health, rehabilitation, and potentially long-term care, for the veterans of eastern Oklahoma and across the state," said Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System Director Mark E. Morgan.
The VHiT was approved through a congressional program started in 2016 that lets communities help develop Department of Veterans Affairs facilities. OSU got involved in discussions about the project that started in 2018.
"The majority of veterans in northeast Oklahoma are living in the Tulsa area, having a veterans hospital that was located where there’s actually public transit, making it easier for veterans to come to the hospital," said OSU Center for Health Sciences President Dr. Kayse Shrum.
Shrum said the veterans hospital’s proximity to their medical center means fellows and residents will have additional opportunities to work with patients.
"Which means more access to care for veterans, but as those fellows and residents graduate from their training, that’s more doctors for all Oklahomans," Shrum said.
The state will transfer the building to the Department of Veterans Affairs, while the City of Tulsa and private donors led by the Anne and Henry Zarrow Foundation are kicking in a total of $53 million for the project.
Courtney Latta Knoblock with the Anne and Henry Zarrow Foundation said when the new hospital opens, up to 3,000 workers could be coming into downtown each day.
"It’ll — we hope — over the next 20 years, with additional investments become a really vibrant, true university center medical engine for the City of Tulsa," Latta Knoblock said.