Money in hand for houses at Canandaigua VA

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, fully funded through 2019, continues to operate during the partial government shutdown — and that includes progress on the massive, multimillion-dollar upgrade at Canandaigua VA Medical Center.

Construction workers are on the job building a new outpatient clinic. What’s more, VA received approval for $190 million to build its new Community Living Center. Now in the final design phase, the new development will provide veterans with a homey, neighborhood-style setting comprised of small houses. Patterned after St. John’s nursing home model in Penfield, the new VA housing will be the largest community of its kind in the greater Rochester area.

“This will be the biggest, small-housing model in our region,” said Dr. Suzanne Gillespie, the local VA’s associate chief of staff specializing in geriatrics and extended care rehabilitation. “We are really excited about it.”

Gillespie was on hand Thursday to discuss the project, along with Judy Schwingel, VA geriatrics and extended care manager. VA Construction Project Manager David Price talked about the project, as well.

The concept puts the kibosh on the standard, institutional-style nursing home.

The new Community Living Center on the VA campus on Fort Hill Avenue will sport 10 small houses, each equipped for 12 residents. Residents each will have their own private bedroom and bathroom. The community will feature cozy kitchens and dining areas where residents can participate in cooking and other activities, if they choose, and relax in living rooms with comfortable furnishings and fireplaces. There will be places to socialize with other residents and visitors. The community will feature an auditorium, coffee shop, fitness area and other features. Veterans will be able to see their healthcare providers and receive many services right where they live.

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