The VA WNY Healthcare System is moving forward with plans to close its adult care center in Amherst. This, despite calls from patients, volunteers and one lawmaker to keep the facility open.
In July, the VA announced it decided to shut the program down with its lease at the Northtown Business Center on Sheridan Drive in Amherst running up and the property owner's plans to demolish the building.
Now, according to Congressman Brian Higgins, the property owner is willing to let the VA stay at the property for six month rent free and does not plan to demolish the building.
"The objective is to not only keep this program where it is today and what services it offers to our veterans and to improve upon it and to expand it," Higgins said. "Not close it based on faulty information."
When reached Thursday afternoon for comment, a spokesperson for VA WNY Healthcare System said the agency had not heard from the property owner about the demolition being off.
"We have no plans to demolish this building in the near term, and there is no need or want, on our part to see the veterans leave," Brian Sciera, senior vice president for leasing at WS Development Associates, said in a statement provided by Higgins' office. "We are more than willing to work with the VA in the interim."
Most patients will be transitioned to different adult day healthcare providers in the community by the end of August, but the facility will have limited operations in September, according to the VA. The agency will vacate the building by October 1.
"They should be replicating this all over the country," Vietnam War veteran Steve Banko said. He's advocating for the program to continue. "This should be a VA best practice. Not something we are fighting to keep open."
The VA will cover the cost for its patients at new community partners.
One of the big concerns for patients is transitioning to a new care provider that includes civilian patients. Many veterans referred to the camaraderie of treatment with each other, who better understand the challenges and issues they face.