Kat Miller: Reno could be site of Northern Nevada veterans home
Lately, I’ve fielded a lot of questions about the governor’s drive to build a veterans nursing home in Northern Nevada. Let me share with you the status of this initiative.
During the 2013 legislative session, Gov. Brian Sandoval signed Assembly Bill 505, which appropriated funding for the design-through-construction-documents phase for a Northern Nevada veterans home. This design will tell us exactly what we need to seek for construction in the next session. We have a grant application in with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs that would cover two-thirds of the cost, with Nevada funding the remaining one-third. If that is approved, construction could occur as early as January 2016, but more likely would be in 2017.
Why build a veterans nursing home in this region? There are more than 80,000 veterans in Northern Nevada, and many need skilled-nursing care or will. A state veterans home provides high-quality care at lower-than-average costs. Nevada state law required that after the veterans home in Boulder City was built, the next to be built would be in Northern Nevada.
The concept calls for a 96-bed facility providing 24-hour skilled-nursing care to veterans and their spouses. The campus would create a residential atmosphere with small community groupings. When searching for potential sites, we considered the following criteria: the home must serve the greatest number of veterans possible, be close to a VA hospital to minimize stress associated with travel to medical appointments, be close to recreational activities, be close to the homes of family and friends, and have a strong community support base.
With these criteria in mind, we are considering placing this facility at the northern end of Reno’s Northern Nevada Mental Health Campus, bordered by Kietzke Lane and Galletti Way. There were great site possibilities in Carson City, but the need to place the facility in proximity of a VA hospital to best support medical needs became the overriding factor.
The Nevada State Public Works Division released a request for proposal for a construction manager to assist with design and construction. The submission deadline was Feb. 3, and many quality proposals were received and are under consideration. To make sure that the facility meets the needs of veterans in Northern Nevada, Director Caleb Cage of the Governor’s Office of Military and Veterans Policy held two public convenings in January to solicit public input about specific nursing home needs. This input will help the project architect, Van Woert Biggotti Architects of Reno, design the facility.
When we build this home, our veterans will have a state-of-the-art skilled-nursing facility that they can truly call “home,” a place where they can live with other patriots with whom they share a common identity and sense of community.
Kat Miller is the director of the Nevada Department of Veterans Services. Her column appears on the first Monday of each month.