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Construction OK'd for state veterans' nursing home in Sumter

Veterans’ home will be 6th in S.C., set for 2023 opening

BY KAYLA GREEN kayla@theitem.com
Posted 2/1/20

A state committee gave the green light to putting a new state veterans nursing home in Sumter County, and a Sumter lawmaker is hoping three final contingencies are approved without pushback.

The Joint Bond Review Committee approved on Wednesday …

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Construction OK'd for state veterans' nursing home in Sumter

Veterans’ home will be 6th in S.C., set for 2023 opening

Posted

A state committee gave the green light to putting a new state veterans nursing home in Sumter County, and a Sumter lawmaker is hoping three final contingencies are approved without pushback.

The Joint Bond Review Committee approved on Wednesday the construction of what will be the sixth such facility in the state, giving Sumter a 148,000-square-foot nursing home for 104 residents and creating a 100-person staff.

Potential sites have been narrowed down but not approved, according to state Rep. Murrell Smith, R-Sumter, and federal funding won't be available until 2023.

Funding from the federal Veterans Administration is expected to be $28.8 million with taxpayers supplying $34.9 million.

The decision to build a facility in Sumter came after construction costs for a site in Columbia increased too much since the state applied for federal monies in 2015, Department of Mental Health Interim State Director Mark Binkley previously told The Sumter Item. When the Columbia project was dropped, Smith, who at that time was newly appointed to the JBRC after being named chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, pushed for the next home to be in Sumter, where there is Shaw Air Force Base and, according to The Post and Courier, nearly 4,000 elderly veterans. The newspaper says that is the 14th-largest countywide population of 46 in the state.

Smith said having such a facility in Sumter will be beneficial to those veterans who are at or nearing the age and health when they would take advantage of the high-quality, low-cost homes.

Sumter's facility is much needed.

South Carolina's three state veterans' nursing homes - located in Columbia, Anderson and Walterboro - are at capacity with a total of 530 veterans. According to The Post and Courier, more than 1,000 veterans throughout South Carolina want to live in a state nursing home.

Homes in Florence and Gaffney received federal approval in April 2018 and are currently under construction, on track to open in the summer of 2021.

In October, the JBRC gave a favorable recommendation for a home in Sumter and a fourth new one. On Wednesday, the group said that fourth one should be in Horry County.

Now, the State Fiscal Accountability Authority, on which Smith also sits, must approve Wednesday's recommendation. Smith said that is all but certain. Then, the General Assembly must write the state funding portion into the budget, which he is also expecting to happen. Finally, the mental health department must apply for VA funding.

The department will be asking for $37.88 million in taxpayer dollars to build the Sumter home in addition to $20 million that is already available, leftover from the nixed Columbia project. That brings the total state funding level to $57.88 million.

If the Horry County home is approved, it will cost an additional $5.3 million so the facility can be constructed up to hurricane code standards. That home, located in the county that The Post and Courier says has the most elderly veterans of any county in the state, is expected to be ready by 2028.