Marion County Loses Bid For Veterans Nursing Home

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Florida’s seventh nursing home for military veterans will be built in western Port St. Lucie.

Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet on Tuesday voted unanimously to approve $17 million in funding for the 120-bed facility, which will cost an additional $27 to $37 million in federal funds to construct, according to the St. Lucie County government website.

The 28.5-acre site was donated by the Tradition Land Company, and is expected to employ about 190 people.

Marion County scored second in the selection process, falling short by 21 points out of the total 1,600.

State Representative Dennis Baxley said his county considers itself next.

“Our effort was to go there and represent all veterans of our region, advocate for them, and try to lay down a template and an expectation that because we did so well, rather than doing another site review that the next VA home would be sited here,” Rep. Baxley, R-Ocala, said.

A local VA nursing home could serve more than 280,000 veterans over the age of 65 who live within a 75-mile radius of Ocala, according to the county’s website

“It’s incredible, I mean look at the numbers and you see that the six that are in operation today are filled and maxed so there’s no doubt that there’s a special need,” County Commissioner Carl Zalak said.

The 25 acres for the proposed site were donated by On Top of the World Communities, which has a two-year contract with the county.

The selection committee looked at sites in six counties and based its decision on a variety of criteria, such as the number of veterans in the area, the proximity of U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers and civilian health-care facilities, and nearby colleges producing health-care graduates, according to the St. Lucie County website.

The governor and cabinet are expected to revisit the issue next year.

According to the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs, there are more than 731,000 veterans over the age of 65 in the Sunshine State.

About Jennifer Tintner

Jennifer is a reporter who can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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