A large crowd of Veterans, employees and visitors witnessed the dedication of the new facilities on the Biloxi campus on Dec. 16. Deputy Under Secretary for Health for Operations and Management William Schoenhard served as guest speaker. Five new buildings were dedicated: the new mental health building, community living center, blind rehab center, clinical addition and parking garage.
Staying true to the $310 million-plus project’s namesake (Project Acorn), Director Thomas Wisnieski’s metaphor put the event in proper perspective.
“Like an oak tree born from an acorn, our growth will be rooted in a strong foundation that supports the many branches of our health care system,” he said during the event.
Earlier in the week, in a system-wide e-mail to all VA Gulf Coast employees, Wisnieski shared his feelings about what the project represents
"This is a very exciting time for all of us. The opening brings to life a vision, a vision complete with identified medical treatment programs and treating specialties for our medical center,” he wrote. “We now have one of the finest and most modern of all VA health care facilities. We already know that we have the finest people manning our programs and provid¬ing the best possible health care for those that have earned, deserved and are entitled to that care. I appreciate your efforts in making this medical center one of the outstanding health care systems, VA and private sector, as identified by the Joint Commission on health care.”
Wisnieski later added that Schoenhard wanted to be sure that appreciation from VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki and Dr. Robert Petzel, Under Secretary for Health, was conveyed to the entire VA Gulf Coast staff. Schoenhard was impressed with the new buildings, new programs and the spirit and professionalism of the employees he had a chance to meet. He said it was a privilege to be with so many people dedicated to serving Veterans.
Construction on the campus is not finished, however, as other new buildings will be added in the next several years.