Open Letter to the Veteran’s Administration

Several Fort Howard community resident veterans stated during  yesterday night’s  (March 24, 2016)  Fort Howard Community Association meeting they received letters from the Veterans Administration advising them of the closure of the Fort Howard VAMC Out Patient would be TEMPORARY contrary to  the forthoward.org post on March 23, 2016 the VA Out Patient Center is permanently closed.

Veterans Administration Maryland updated the press release on March 24, 2016 and now reports  Fort Howard VAMC Out Patient Center  is PERMANENTLY closed.

Situation Update

As of Thursday, March 24, 2016 7:55 AM EDT

After a thorough assessment and evaluation of recent water damage at the Fort Howard VA Outpatient Clinic, the VA Maryland Health Care System has decided to permanently close the facility and move it to a new location.  The clinic’s numerous infrastructure issues, location within a flood zone, lack of public transportation resources, and the discovery of mold from water damage led to the decision to move to a new and more accessible location to better serve the needs of our veteran patients.  The VA Maryland Health Care System will be using the competitive lease process to identify a new location for the clinic in Eastern Baltimore County that is in close proximity to mass transportation and major roadways.  

“Providing a safe and healthy environment for our veteran patients and employees is our top priority,” said Dr. Adam M. Robinson, Jr., director of the VA Maryland Health Care System.  “After our recent assessment and evaluation, we have determined that the Fort Howard VA Outpatient Clinic is no longer a suitable environment to provide high quality patient care, and that it would be in the best interest of our veteran patients to find a new location that is centrally located.”  

The clinic initially closed March 9 as result of water damage, and all patient care activities and staff were transferred to the Loch Raven VA Outpatient Clinic, located at 3901 The Alameda in Baltimore, Maryland.  Until a new location can be identified and opened in Eastern Baltimore County, patients will continue to receive outpatient services from their same primary care providers at the Loch Raven VA Outpatient Clinic.  The main phone line for the Fort Howard VA Outpatient Clinic has also been transferred to the Loch Raven clinic.  Patients can continue to dial (410) 477-1800 to schedule, change or cancel a clinic appointment or to speak with a member of their primary care team.  Patients who need medical advice or have questions about their medications may call the VA Maryland Health Care System’s Telephone Care Line 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-865-2441. 

“We apologize for any inconvenience the closure of the Fort Howard VA Outpatient Clinic may cause our veteran patients and employees,” said Dr. Sandra Marshall, chief of staff for the VA Maryland Health Care System.  “While we are working to identify a new location for a VA outpatient clinic in Eastern Baltimore County, we will continue to serve the health care needs of our veteran patients at the Loch Raven VA Outpatient Clinic.”

This closure and elimination of Veterans Out Patient Service at the Fort Howard VAMC Campus flies in the face of the Veterans Administration  Enhanced Use Lease award to Fort Howard Development, LLC:

“The VA signed an “initial lease,” with Fort Howard Development, LLC in December 2011 regarding the development of the Fort Howard campus… As part of the “finalized lease,” Fort Howard Development became legally responsible for building a new and expanded outpatient clinic on the Fort Howard campus. The 10,320 square foot clinic was to be a state-of -the -art facility designed and constructed to serve the health care needs of Veterans living in eastern Baltimore County.

The (finalized) lease also included the set aside of 10 acres for the possible construction of a State Veterans Home(Maryland State Nursing Home)  on the Fort Howard Campus.

 Fort Howard VA Campus Press Release Finalized EUL

The “new state-of the-art out patient center,” benefit promised by the Veterans Administration for veterans of eastern Baltimore County and the 10 acres of land set-aside for a State Veterans Home was agreed upon by both Veterans Administration and Fort Howard Development, LLC after allegedly completing “prepared environmental impact studies, reviewing design plans for a new VA outpatient clinic at Fort Howard, holding meetings with officials from the State Preservation Office, and a final development plan for the campus.”

This  latest “undevelopment,” of the permanent veterans benefit loss of  Fort Howard Veteran’s Outpatient services  and subsequent  loss of the  “10,320 square foot  state-of -the -art facility designed and constructed to served the health care needs of Veterans living in eastern Baltimore County,”  promised after “reviewing design plans for a new VA outpatient clinic at Fort Howard ,”appears to be  another loss of Veterans benefits in the long litany of unfulfilled and unenforced promises, stipulations, and conditions of  the Veterans Administration Fort Howard EUL.

This latest additional  default of the VA EUL  follows the VA defaulting on the  EUL stipulations requiring Fort Howard Development, LLC to safe guard and adequately secure the campus. That VA EUL default precipitated five fires burning down several  historic buildings.

This VA default on the EUL’s campus  security by Fort Howard Development, LCC is affirmed  by Fort Howard Development, LCC fined  $45,000 after November 2015 Baltimore County Administrative Hearing

In a follow-up March 24, 2016, Baltimore County Department of Permits, Inspections, & Approval verified  Fort Howard Development, LCC has not paid or appealed the $45,000 fine.

Furthermore, Baltimore County Department of Permits, Inspections, & Approval added  new citations and fines are forth coming to Fort Howard Development, LLC .

VA stated in the news release above,  that VA and Fort Howard Development, LLC “prepared environmental impact studies,” to meet the  Enhanced Use Lease  National Environmental Protection Act requirements which includes infrastructure.

Fort Howard Development, LLC’s default on that  requirement was verified (two years after the  EUL  execution) in  a January 23, 2014   VA Office of Asset Enterprise Management Freedom of Information Act reply stating  no traffic study was conducted.

It should be noted, November 2011, Fort Howard Development, LLC  publicly promised  a traffic study  of the main Fort Howard traffic collector, North Point Road, after being informed  Baltimore County engineers data indicated current in-place  infrastructure is inadequate to support the VA campus development.

Fort Howard Development,LLC vowed  not to build  if the promised  traffic study determined the infrastructure is unsupportive of development.

The VA campus has been completely stripped of all metal (including the entire VA campus power plant)   without any Baltimore County Department of Permits, Inspections, & Approval permits or inspections. The EUL requires Fort Howard Development, LLC comply with state and local codes once the EUL is executed.

The Veterans Administration  officially stated in a letter dated February 17, 2o16, addressed to another federal agency  co-signatory of documents of Veterans Administration Enhanced Use Lease awarded to  Fort Howard Development, LLC that “the developer (Fort Howard Development, LLC) is in default with the terms and conditions…at the Landing at Fort Howard.”

Fort Howard Community Association unequivocally opposes the Veterans Administration move to deny eastern Baltimore County veterans the benefit of medial services at Fort Howard VAMC and will fight to restore the veterans benefits with the now betrayed promise of a  “10,320 square foot clinic was to be a state-of -the -art facility designed and constructed to serve the health care needs of Veterans living in eastern Baltimore County.”

Please email your support to  restore medical benefit services at the Fort Howard VAMC  for our wounded warriors living in eastern Baltimore County to Mail@forthoward.org and fight by donating to the Fort Howard Community Association Legal Fund to Restore Eastern Baltimore County Veterans Benefits.

 

Fort Howard Community Association, Inc.  is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit corporation chartered in the State of Maryland. Donation are tax deductible.

 

 

 

 

Posted in 6th District Legislators, County Council, Development, FHVA, General.