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Major Naval Hospital Expansion Planned

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Major Naval Hospital expansion planned; upgrade will improve base's military value

Addition twice as big as current facility, will also include eight-story elevator.

By GREGORY PIATT, The Times-Union

Navy officials hope to begin construction this spring on a five-story addition to the Naval Hospital at Jacksonville Naval Air Station that would be nearly twice the size of the existing facility.

Along with the new 83,400-square-foot building, a new eight-story elevator would be erected and renovations would be done to the existing 48,300-square-foot, eight-story building, according to the Navy. Congress approved $28.4 million for the project in this year's budget.

"This project is part of a critical update and expansion that will significantly strengthen the hospital's ability to provide critical and quality health care service," said U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw, R-Fla., who was instrumental in getting the money put into this year's budget. "Modernizing this facility will greatly benefit our military personnel, their families and veterans of this region."

The expansion and modernization also improves the military value of the air station as it faces the Pentagon's military base realignment and closure process this year. Pentagon leaders said recently that bases in the United States have 15 to 20 percent excess capacity and want to shed this capacity to save money. The Pentagon is expected to submit its closure and realignment lists by May 16.

Construction of the new hospital addition should take three years, said Sue Brink, spokeswoman for the Naval Facilities Engineering Command in Jacksonville.

The invitations for bidding on the project closed in late March and now the Defense Department's technical evaluation and selection boards will review the proposals and determine whether a bidder can be selected or if they need more information, Brink said.

"The construction should begin approximately one month after the award announcement," Brink said.

The new addition will include: six operating rooms, a room for Caesarean sections and 14 labor, delivery and recovery rooms. The new building will have physical and occupational therapy rooms, administrative and pharmacy offices.

Alterations will be done on all eight floors of the current hospital, Brink said. She wasn't more specific what would be done to the facility. She did say work would be done on the roof.

"The hospital will remain in operations during the construction and the work is phased to allow hospital functions to be maintained with minimum interruptions," Brink said.

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Good news for NAS Jax! I guess this would shew away any rumors of the base closing in the near future.

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