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Frozen in Time: 90 Years of Care at St. Cloud VA Medical Center [VIDEO]

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ST. CLOUD – The St. Cloud VA Medical Center has been caring for veterans since 1924 and now serves more than 37,000 veterans in the Midwest.

In the early 1920’s, the St. Cloud Commercial Club raised money and purchased land for the facility to be built. St. Cloud VA medical director Barry Bahl says the group eventually sold the land to the U.S. government for a great price.

“They purchased over 300 acres of land out here and then they turned it over to the U.S. government for one dollar,” Bahl says.

In its first few decades, the Medical Center grew to service over 1,000 veterans. The facility had 115 staff in 1928, that’s grown to over 1,700 people today. The Medical Center has seen its largest growth over the last 20 years due to Vietnam Veterans needing more care.

 

“We saw this huge growth from 6-7 thousand veterans in the early 90’s to the 37,000 that we’re seeing now,” Bahl says.

The last 20 years has also signaled a shift to outpatient care. The Center has an estimated 360,000 outpatient visits a year and operates three community based outpatient clinics in Alexandria, Brainerd and Montevideo.

Keeping up with medical advancements in technology has also been crucial for the facility over its history.

“We have some of the latest tools for treating patients with MRI machines and all of our lab and radiology equipment has been upgraded,” Bahl says.

The St. Cloud VA Medical Center just recently celebrated its 90th anniversary. With a larger need for veterans care in the future, the facility plans to continue its growth.

“We’re going to be designing this year and building the following year an adult day health care building,” Dahl says “Right now that’s in high demand, we have an average of 45 people coming in a day for care and then living at home at night.”

The Center also plans to add another floor to its mental health clinic, rennovate several mental health buildings and add a new wing for imaging services and specialty care.

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