FLORENCE, S.C. – A crowd of Florence County leaders, veterans and veteran supporters gathered under the porch at Veteran Village in Florence to cut the ribbon on the new nursing home built specifically to serve veterans.
“It’s so wonderful to see so many people out here on this lovely day in South Carolina. I want to welcome you to Veteran Village. Wait till you see the inside,” Laura Fowler, Veteran Village administrator, told those in attendance.
The facility, managed by VSI of South Carolina, is on National Cemetery Road near Florence National Cemetery.
“Today marks the culmination of planning and construction to create this beautiful new home. It is designed to serve those who served,” she said.
The facility offers single-occupancy rooms spread out with four separate houses, divided by two, with an occupancy of 13 veterans for each half house.
Each half house will be attended to by two CNA, one RN and a Veterans Host to tend to the needs of the residents, said Sandy Miles, director of human resources, during a tour of the facility.
“A project like this is only possible through the leadership and dedication of many in our state and community,” Fowler said.
“When you look at South Carolina it truly is tremendous the facilities that we have available to our veterans so that anywhere in the state you can get care very close to home,” said Dr. Kenneth Rogers, state director of the South Carolina Department of Mental Health.
The VA was able to fund 47% of the construction costs of Veteran Village, said Jeffrey Soots, associate director, Columbia VA Health Care System.
Soots also commented on the proximity of care to veterans and said that more facilities are in the works.
“We currently have 400,000 veterans in the state of South Carolina, but only 200,000 are getting their care from the VA and the VA can’t build these homes quick enough,” Soots said.
Currently the organization is asking to build a 300,000- square-foot health care center of operations in Spartanburg, and has just wrapped up planning a bigger facility in Florence.
“Just finished the planning phase for a brand-new clinic in Florence. That’s going to be a 25,000-square-foot facility,” Soots said. “I will get that funded this year with construction starting next year come hell of high water.”
Florence currently has a smaller VA medical clinic.
Soots said a 25,000-square-foot clinic is now open in Orangeburg, ground has been broken for one in Sumter and one is being requested for Laurens County.
Other speakers included Sen. Hugh K. Leatherman, who worked to make the facility happen, and Maj. General William Grimsley whose family is from the Pee Dee. One of the rooms in the facility is also named after his father.
Other on-site amenities include a chapel, game room, physical therapy room, a bistro separate from the house dining rooms, a secure memory care unit and an on-site pharmacy.
Assistance with the cost of rooms is available, though it may come with a co-pay.
The facility is looking for residents and staff. For more information visit www.veteranvillagesc.com or call 833-444-1776.