VA medical training facility to be built next to hospital at Lake Nona



ORLANDO, Fla. - Channel 9 was there Thursday as Sen. Bill Nelson got a look at plans for a new Veterans Affairs medical training facility that will be built next to the VA hospital project at Lake Nona.

Nelson fought for the project to be built in central Florida because of the area's booming simulation industry. He said it also makes sense for it to be built next to the hospital to keep Orlando on the forefront of the changes in technology and protect the industry from future cuts.

"We use mannequins, task trainers, virtual training to allow our providers, our trainees to practice before going in," said SimLearn Medical Director Dr. Haru Okuda.

Channel 9's Karla Ray got look at some of the simulators that will be built into the 51,000-square-foot training center. The just-announced project will be the hub for all VA physician training in the country.

"Doctors and nurses are going to come from 150 VA medical centers, and they're going to come to Orlando to train to be instructors," said SimLearn National Program Manager Harry Robinson.

Nelson fought to fund the facility that will sit in the shadow of the overbudget and ever-delayed VA hospital. He called it good news in the midst of the construction mess.

He said adding the technology and training at Lake Nona could help prevent cuts to Orlando's booming simulation industry by the Department of Defense.

"This is just another thing that cements the simulation industry to stay here for the entire DOD," Nelson said.

He also said that a base realignment and closure that could take resources away from central Florida's booming simulation industry won’t happen anytime soon.

The simulation center is expected to open at the VA complex by the end of next year.