20 (more!) little known facts about VA medical centers

Learn about the history of VA medical centers, where 9 million Veterans across the nation receive health care


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A few months ago, we explored 20 little known facts about VA’s medical centers, and it was such a hit that we’ve brought it back!

Here are 20 bonus factoids about our medical centers, where committed health care professionals provide nearly 9 million Veterans with the excellent care they deserve.

  1. The James J. Peters VA Medical Center in Bronx, New York, is located on the highest point in New York City.
  2. The world’s first successful liver transplant was performed at the Denver VA Medical Center by pioneering surgeon Dr. Thomas E. Starzl.
  3. Bath, New York, was selected as a site for a VA medical center because its residents raised $23,000 for the project — in the 1870s! That’s more than $500,000 today.
  4. The modified Pueblo architecture of the Raymond G. Murphy VA Medical Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico, was designed to harmonize with the scenery and closely resemble the Native American village of Taos.
  5. Since 1973, internal medicine residents at the Durham VA Medical Center in North Carolina, have participated in an annual Thanksgiving game of flag football against residents at Duke Hospital.
  6. The stunning grotto at the Dayton VA Medical Center is a former limestone quarry.
  7. The Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center in Muskogee, Oklahoma, was the first VA Medical Center in the nation to be named after a Native American.
  8. Construction of the University Drive campus of the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System was delayed because an abandoned mine shaft was discovered beneath the land.
  9. Salem VA Medical Center in Roanoke, Virginia, is the only one to be dedicated by a sitting president, President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
  10. The VA Medical Center in Togus, Maine, was once a summer resort known as Togus Springs that boasted a hotel, stables, bowling alley, farmhouse, bathing house and race track.
  11. In the 1930s, the Doris Miller VA Medical Center in Waco, Texas, produced 2,400 pounds of ice daily at its ice plant.
  12. The VA medical center in Salt Lake City, Utah, once had a golf course, swimming pool, bowling alley, barber shop, and a theatre for first-run Hollywood movies and USO shows.
  13. The VA medical center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was a half-hour, horse-drawn buggy ride from downtown Milwaukee.
  14. With the largest research program in the VA system, the San Francisco VA Medical Center is one of a few facilities in the world that can conduct a whole-body MRI.
  15. The San Juan VA Medical Center in Puerto Rico is the only VA hospital in a U.S. territory.
  16. The Orlando VA Medical Center is recognized as one of the Top 100 Companies in Central Florida for working families.
  17. The West Palm Beach VA Medical Center in Florida is a design site for the VA’s Whole Health program, which focuses on providing Veterans with proactive care and incorporates more alternative medicine options.
  18. The Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center in Indianapolis, Indiana, partners with the nation’s only Veteran-centric YMCA.
  19. VA’s first African American hospital director, Lt. Col. Joseph Henry Ward, M.D., ran the Tuskegee VA Medical Center in the 1920s.
  20. Many VAMCs got their start as tuberculosis (TB) facilities. William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin, was the first of VA’s 19 TB hospitals.

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Comments

  1. Richard Leo Pflipsen    

    A few years ago I went to a Dr. clinic in Denver to be evaluated for disability. While stationed in the Philippines I maintained the film processing machines that processes the recon film flights. We handled film developer without proper skin protection or ventilation. At times I would be preparing the film processing machines when a lab person would be filling the tanks with developer. The power panel that I would have to check at the same time was right in front of the tank. It ran on 440 volts. There was a splash guard that the lab person was supposed to insert it in front of the tank. When the developer ran down the front and into the panel it would give off toxic vapor. There were a couple of times that this happened. When I would get done with my shift I would go to bed. I would wake up in the middle of the night and have respiratory distress and have to sit up until I could breath normally again. I had gone to the clinic and was given medication to help me breath when I had trouble again. Several years ago I ran across MSDS safety sheets for the developer. The Dr. in Denver said there was no records of any of this. I said that medical records are archived in D.C..
    She denied this and that was it. I now have stage 3 kidney disease. which was missed by my VA Dr.. I found about this when I requested copies of the last 8 yrs of my labs so I could see when my PSA started to rise. I was only sent the labs for 2009. I was still being prescribed a strong form of NSAID when the top of the lab sheet recommended that I see a Nephrologist. My sister in law, a retired Nurse said that if they were caught developing x rays without proper protection that they would be fired. Agent Orange was dangerous and so was developer yet few people know about this danger.
    On another note could the VA make it clear when a veteran can go to a civilian Dr. or hospital or urgent care and the VA will or not pay for it. I am about 70 miles away from the hospital I am assigned to, Cheyenne, Wyo.. Also could the clinics be educated as to what the rules are? It cost me $1500. to have my infected gall bladder taken out and a few hours later a stone that was in a lube that was the cause, removed. Was in hosp. 16 days and back in the ER for c-diff.. Dr. O’Brien got promoted. Shortly after I did not get my Rx. for clonazepam on time and I ran out. I had seizures for two nights and couldn’t eat. I had to go to my civilian /dr. to get enough to get me by until whomever dropped the ball got it right. Then they decided I needed to see a Shrink or three. One of them gave me something in place of what I use and I jumped awake from sleep and checked my pulse. It was 100. I then checked my ekg with the Kardia device that works with my smart phone. and it showed Possible A Fib. I pay Kardia $99. a year to fax a reading to my cardiologist who I had to make an appointment with to get checked. I had to pay $30 for the visit and $35. for a larger EKG check. I took a 15 Mo. intensive class in which we had to be ok’d by a Psychiatrist to see if we could handle the stress that the course created. It was five or six one hours sessions. He prescribed me two medications that I would have to take the rest of my life. This was in the early 90’s. It was a new therapy called Rebirthing. It uses connected breathing to bring up suppressed feelings. Dr. John Alston was the psychiatrist. Please spend more effort in getting the health benefits straightened out and clarified so we know what exactly the benefits are. Thank you for your time.

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  2. Daniel L Kibbee    

    Please do a piece on the beautiful buildings built for Veterans Administration by FDR.. they were unique in design. And remember in crisis FDR said .. Do the best you can , with what you have, where you are.
    I encourage you to consider this my friends.

  3. Michael Cummings    

    How can we help our vets and become Crisis Counselors or just be able to reach out and tend to their needs?

  4. Ferrian South    

    When will VA Medical Centers reopen to veterans for medical care (non-COVID-19)?

    1. Roger F Johnson    

      When will VA Medical Centers reopen to veterans for medical care (non-COVID -19) in North Dakota?

  5. John Rinkema    

    What about the CAPT. James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center in North Chicago, IL?

  6. Joel Castle    

    The only time I think of suicide is when I call the veterans administration/hospital.

    1. SW    

      Joel, that speaks volumes. I keep telling one of my providers at my VA the reason so many veterans are committing suicide is because of the way the VA is pushing veterans out and refusing to maintain the human contact and interactions veterans need. My biggest examples are, sign in on that kiosk for your appointment, do your travel on that kiosk, check the status of your upcoming appointments online. And now, veterans in rural areas will be going to WALMART to be able to have video appointments. My VA recently CANCELLED a lot of appointments, it was a mass cancellation “due to the virus” My question is why didn’t they just convert as many as they could to telephone appointments or video? The VA is just making up excuses now not to have to see veterans in person. I see many many more veteran suicides happening before we ever get anyone running the veterans’ administration that has any brains.

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