WFTV tours unfinished VA hospital amid delays

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ORLANDO, Fla. —

WFTV reporter Karla Ray took a tour of the new Department of Veterans Affairs hospital being built in Orlando on Monday, and she found out that some floors in the building do not have walls or rooms.

There have been a series of delays plaguing the VA since it broke ground in 2009.

It was supposed to open in late 2012, but the project has been delayed several times and is now overdue and over budget.

WFTV found out last week that the opening date was pushed back again to December.

Congressman John Mica did not know about the latest delay until WFTV reported it, and he told Ray he did not know the reason for the latest delay.

Inside the VA hospital at Medical City, some floors are made up of only steel beams and wood. There are no walls or rooms yet.

"Is it embarrassing how long this has taken?" Ray asked. 

"Well, unfortunately this is the history of some of the VA medical complexes. It's not only this one," replied Mica.

Even in the shadow of the $100 million over-budget hospital that's now two years behind schedule.

Mica insists there are victories at the VA compound in Lake Nona.

WFTV took a tour with Mica of the newly opened community living center and mental health rehab facility that will open next month. Those buildings, he said, were on time and in budget.

There is good news for veterans: The nursing home facility is open and staffed, and it has veterans being treated there.

The general contractor, Brasfiled and Gorrie, blamed the delays on changes by Veterans Affairs, but Mica did not point the finger.

"I think we can speed that up. That's my opinion, it's not official, but from what I hear there are more people working now," said Mica.

The contractor said that it has an average of 700 people a day working to get it finished.