BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) — A plan to close the Battle Creek Veterans Affairs Medical Center has been scrapped. The center has been in Battle Creek for nearly a century and won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.

This was part of a national plan to modernize VA centers, in which 35 facilities would close, including Battle Creek.

The Asset and Infrastructure Review commission was tasked with deciding whether to recommend the plan of closing facilities to the president. But in late June, the U.S. Senate got rid of that commission, effectively killing the plan.

“The campus is really a great healing environment,” said Brian Pegouske, the public affairs officer for the Battle Creek VA.

“Veterans love to receive their care here,” Pegouske said. “Our staff do a great job of delivering care to veterans.”

“Our staff aren’t here necessarily for the money,” he added. “They can make more money elsewhere. It’s really about coming to serve those who’ve served and giving back to them and making sure they get the care they’ve earned.”

In March, the VA proposed closing the Battle Creek facility and opening a new center in Wyoming, citing the fact many veterans have moved to the Grand Rapids area in recent decades. There would have also been a new outpatient clinic in Kalamazoo.

But with the plan now shut down, the Battle Creek facility and more than 30 other centers nationwide will remain open for the foreseeable future.

“It’s really important for veterans to know we’re here for them,” Pegouske said. “We’re here to deliver the best care possible, and this is really the place they can come for healing, for recovery.”

The nearly 30 buildings on campus were built between 1931 and 1960, Pegouske said.

But its age brings problems. In March, the VA found the facility doesn’t meet standards for modern healthcare, finding maintenance issues and architectural and engineering challenges.

“There are lower ceilings,” Pegouske acknowledged. “We don’t have central air in some of the buildings. So we continue to look at projects to upgrade the facilities and deliver the best care we can within the footprints we have.”

There are several ongoing projects to modernize the facility. Roads are being repaved around campus. That effort is expected to wrap up in a month.

The urgent care center is being updated. Pegouske said they are “modernizing the whole area,” with upgrades to patient rooms and exam rooms. That project is set to finish by the end of the year.

Floors and walls at many outpatient buildings are also being replaced over the next year. A project upgrading the pharmacy waiting room recently wrapped up too.

In 2023, work will begin on an addition to the community living center. Crews will add private rooms with private baths. That project is expected to take a year.

“The Battle Creek VA medical center is here to continue to deliver care for veterans,” Pegouske said. “We continue to modernize and deliver the best care possible for veterans. And that will happen now and in the future.”

“We’ll continue to make recommendations on projects that we submit locally to go forward to the VA,” he added. “To look for funding to modernize the facility in the future.”

It’s still possible new facilities could open elsewhere in West Michigan. Pegouske said they’ll continue to talk with stakeholders, veteran organizations and veterans about how and where they want to receive their care.

“It’s possible at some point we might have a larger, modern facility on this campus,” Pegouske said. “But as veterans continue to migrate in other areas, it still may make sense in the long-term future to look at a facility somewhere else.”

The VA already has a modern outpatient clinic in Wyoming. Pegouske said it’s still possible a new center could open there at some point depending on the feedback they get.

Meanwhile, a new clinic in Benton Harbor will open this September. Groundbreaking begins next month on an outpatient clinic in Muskegon.

“The VA does essential work for veterans that can’t be replicated on the outside,” Pegouske said. “It really is essential that our staff are here to deliver care to veterans.”