Veterans Affairs considers firing contractor over delays on new Orange Co. hospital


ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Construction on the new Veterans Hospital in Orange County has been plagued by delays and design changes. Tuesday, Rep. John Mica told WFTV the contractor may be fired after missing an important deadline on Friday.

"It's pretty crowded. You've got to wait forever and a day to see anybody," said Navy veteran Robert Workman.

Workman cracked his back in three places when he fell 35 feet and landed on a ship platform, but some of the treatments he needs to keep walking can't be performed at the current veterans hospital in Orlando.

"There's no hospital facility here. They either gotta send you to Gainesville or Tampa or somewhere else," Workman said.

The long waits and far trips are part of the reason Workman has been looking forward to the completion of Orlando's new VA hospital at Lake Nona and why he said news of more problems is so disheartening.

VA officials accused Brasfield & Goorie, the main contractor building the $665 million facility, of missing a deadline to say when the project will finally be completed.

"Now if they do not provide that information, they will be replaced as the contractor," said Mica.

If they are fired, it could mean more delays and cost overruns for a project that the builder said was more than a year behind schedule and $120 million over budget.

The VA issued a statement saying failure to meet the deadline, "does not demonstrate the partnership and commitment needed to deliver this medical center to Florida's veterans.”

A Brasfield & Gorrie spokesperson denied knowing about the deadline and blamed the project's problems on the VA for not providing crucial information.

"All them vets are coming back and there's nowhere to treat them," Workman said.

Mica said he expects VA officials to make a decision on whether to fire Brasfield & Gorrie as early as this week.