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Not enough rooms: Coffman says VA misled Congress on Aurora hospital design

Posted at 9:59 PM, Jan 15, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-16 00:32:37-05

AURORA, Colo. -- As if being four years late and a billion dollars over budget wasn't enough, there is another major problem with the new VA hospital in Aurora: Congressman Mike Coffman says there won't be enough patient rooms. 

"How on earth could they do this? Why didn't they bring this to the attention of Congress early in the process?" Coffman asked.

The Aurora Republican Congressman says the old VA hospital has 60 outpatient exam rooms. The new hospital was built with only 34. 

"This hospital is already four years behind schedule, a billion dollars over budget, and what they’re saying now is there's a design flaw that's going to drive even more costs," he said.

The new VA campus is nearly double the size of the old hospital, according to government documents. That leaves one alternative. 

"You’re going to have to leave the first floor of the existing hospital open for three to five years," Coffman added.

That could cost millions of dollars. 

On Wednesday, the GOP lawmaker and members of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs plan on questioning those in charge of the VA on Capitol Hill about the hospital. 

"I think we want to discipline those responsible. I think people should be fired over this," the Congressman said.

According to VA documents familiar to Coffman, the organization remains positive about the new campus, which is set to open in parts starting in late summer. 

Denver7 also spoke to Coffman about other issues related to the hospital raised in a Friday Denver Post article.

According to documents obtained by the Denver Post, the existing hospital is understaffed by 653, and the new hospital will likely not be able to fill those vacancies. Also, the existing PTSD wing of the old hospital will need to stay open to serve those, since there is no assigned space at the new facility for that treatment. 

Coffman says both of those issues have been known by himself and his committee, and they were expected.