Ground-breaking tomorrow for VA mental health expansion

Rendering of phase 1 of the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center expansion. (provided)

Charleston’s Veterans Affairs medical center will hold a ground-breaking tomorrow for a new PTSD/Mental Health research building which will help expand the extensive delivery work the hospital is already conducting.

The research building, which will include lab and clinical space, will add 16,000 square feet for PTSD and mental health research, among other needs.

“At this point in time our research is the largest in our” region, said Hugh Myrick, acting chief of staff at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center.

The Charleston VA has widely been recognized for being a leader in PTSD, mental health, homelessness and substance abuse treatments. One pioneering example is its extensive use of “telemedicine” therapy, where medical professionals in Charleston use Skype-type technology to reach patients across far expanses, including into rural areas where access and travel is difficult.

Recent counts show more than 3,500 patients were reached this way, from South Carolina to Alabama.

The addition isn’t primarily for veterans from the recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, but will serve patients from all service periods, Myrick said.

The ground breaking ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday at the VA site, 109 Bee St., Charleston.

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