The new research building at the Durham Veterans Affairs Medical officially opened for business on Friday.
The VA hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony to kick of the grand opening of its new five-story, 44,000-square foot facility sitting right behind the hospital. The building is dedicated to a wide-array of research projects including PTSD, alcoholism, spinal cord injury and infectious disease.
The $13.8 million dollar facility opened in two phases with the first phase opening in August 2013 and the second phase ready in March 2014. It will house a total of 50 employees comprised of 24 active research investigators and 26 support staff.
“Researchers currently housed in our new building accounted for more than $4.3 million of research expenditures in fiscal year 2013,” said DeAnne M. Seekins, director of the Durham VA Medical Center. “This new building shows VA’s dedication to research and providing the best possible care for our veterans, now and in the future.”
It’s good news for the Durham facility that has been under intense scrutiny along with VA centers across the country.
Several hospitals are investigating allegations of employees “cooking” books and manipulating wait times that may have kept veterans from timely care.
Two employees from the Durham VA were put on administrative leave this month for possible “inappropriate scheduling practices.” VA officials have not admitted any fault, pending an investigation.
Seekins would not say what “inappropriate scheduling practices” entailed.
U.S. Sen. Richard Burr and Congressmen G.K. Butterfield and David Price were some of the government leaders at Friday’s ceremony.
“I don’t think we have to look forward to see what has been and continues to be a problem,” said Burr. “I think what you’re hearing now is Congress and the president saying, ‘Now is the time to fix this.’”
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