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Vacant Marlin VA Facility To Become State Prison Hospital

(May 29, 2007)?State Sen. Kip Averitt, R-McGregor, and US Rep. John
Carter, R-Round Rock, held a news conference Tuesday in Marlin to announce that the shuttered Marlin Veterans Affairs facility will become a state prison hospital.

Averitt secured $3.5 million for renovations to the building and
another $10million for operating expenses.The reopening of the hospital could mean 140 jobs for a community that has struggled economically in recent years.

“This is a great day for the city of Marlin,” Mayor Norman Erskine
said. The $3 million conversion will turn the facility into a 200-bed
hospital for inmates of women’s prison units in Gatesville.

The transfer of the facility to the state was accomplished Friday with
the passage of the emergency supplemental bill that funds the war in Iraq until September.

It includes a provision that transfers the Thomas Connally Marlin
Veterans Affairs facility to the city of Marlin..Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, added the provision to the measure.

Tuesday Averitt praised Marlin residents for keeping the issue in the
forefront and for pressing officials to find a new use for the facility.

Under a cost-saving move that began in the 1990s to consolidate VA
services,patients were moved out of the Marlin facility, mainly to the Olin E. Teague Veterans Center in Temple.

The facility functioned as a community-based health clinic until 2005,
when it was closed for emergency use in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

It has not reopened.

Hutchison said it cost the federal government $265,000 a year to
maintain the vacant facility.

The provision was one of several measures filed in Austin and
Washington aimed at transferring the facility. When the hospital officially opened in September 1950, it employed 14 physicians, two dentists, 42 nurses and had bed space for 222 patients.

By the time it was closed in 2005, it had just a skeleton staff that
provided community-based services.

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