The Fresno VA Medical Center faces traffic challenges, prompting plans to establish a new administrative office in Clovis that will begin construction in 2023. Photo via Fresno VA
Written by Donald A. Promnitz
To say the Central Valley’s office for the U.S. Department of Veterans has had a lot on its plate would be an understatement.
In fact, the 2019 fiscal year alone saw the Fresno center manage 432,000 outpatient visits with its staff of 1,500 employees. According to Will McCullough, public affairs officer for the Fresno VA, it’s a massive undertaking that requires the cooperation and collaboration of everyone on board.
“It’s more of a logistical marvel,” McCullough said. “It’s one of those things where we strive everyday to provide the very best care for our veterans.”
However, that many visits and that much work has led to a few challenges for the clinic, namely traffic of both patients and vehicles at the central Fresno campus on Clinton Avenue near Highway 41. Even with an additional four sites for parking and a fifth on the way, McCullough added that the number of available spaces is still in the negative. Currently, staff is not allowed to park on site because of it.
Jesse Conyers, chief facility planner for VA Fresno Health Care Systems, further explained that the building was constructed in 1947, but the services and function of the department have expanded in those 72 years, meaning more patients and more veterans. A parking district was approved by the City of Fresno last year, but even this hasn’t been enough.
“When we were built here… there was nothing around,” Conyers said. “Well since then, they’ve built triplexes and apartments and single-occupancy homes … all around us.”
The solution to the problem is to build a new facility in Clovis, where services can be moved and patients can have greater options. According to Conyers, the proposed building will be constructed at the northeast corner of Herndon and Armstrong avenues and is expected to come in at approximately 370,000 square feet, with a five-story parking garage adjacent to the property. Exact costs are currently uncertain, but Conyers stated that the estimates are anywhere from $280-$390 million.
“What we are attempting to do is decompress our campus here as we are landlocked and then also be able to offer services at additional locations here in the city,” McCullough said. “There is a high concentration of veterans in the City of Clovis as well, so it just seemed like a logical move.
The VA plans to begin construction of the center in 2023. Upon its completion, the Clovis site will include (but not be limited to) primary care, ambulatory surgical care, optometry, audiology, logistics, radiology, pharmacy, prosthetics and dental.