The N.C. Division of Veterans Affairs will open two skilled nursing facilities for veterans in the next several months, expanding the state’s capacity to care for its elderly soldiers.
The new homes, each with 100 beds, are in Kinston and Black Mountain.
“It’s going to be great to have this space available,” said Greg Hughes, chief of social work for the Durham VA Medical Center, which will oversee the medical care provided at the home in Kinston. The one in Black Mountain will be administered by the Asheville VA Medical Center.
Other skilled nursing facilities for veterans are located in Salisbury, Fayetteville and within the Durham VA. Each of the those has from 100 to 120 beds.
The new homes were built with a combination of money from the state and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The VA set aside $14.6 million for the home in Black Mountain, near Asheville, and $12 million for the one in Kinston. The federal money was from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
The properties belong to and are administered by the state, with each resident receiving a per diem from the VA. Depending on their financial need, some veterans’ stays are paid entirely by the VA. Others make a partial payment using personal funds, Medicaid, Medicare or private insurance.
Each of the new homes is expected to employ 150 to 170 people.
Tim Wipperman, assistant secretary for the state Division of Veterans Affairs, said the new homes will have all private rooms, arranged in “neighborhoods” of 12 to 14 residents, each with its own dining room, day room, living room and outdoor area. Larger groups of residents will be able to gather in bigger common areas when needed.
“We’re trying to make them as home-like as possible,” Wipperman said.
Wipperman said the homes include such amenities as a therapy pool with a treadmill built into the bottom.
The homes are designed to accommodate both long-term residents and patients who need therapy to be able to return to other living arrangements.
North Carolina has about 766,000 veterans.
“The need is pretty significant,” Hughes said. “I think there probably will be a waiting list.”