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House, Senate Back Funding For Vets’ Nursing Home

a nurse checks the heart of an elderly patient
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Lawmakers appear to have agreed on money needed to get a long-awaited state veterans' nursing home underway.

Separate budget plans approved last week by the House and Senate set aside $38.7 million for the Ardie R. Copas State Veterans Nursing Home in St. Lucie County. The House and Senate still need to reach agreement on a final budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1. But the money for the veterans' nursing home would allow work to begin this fall on the 120-bed facility. The money, a mix of state and federal dollars, is the final allocation needed for the project.

Construction is expected to take 18 to 22 months to complete, Florida Department of Veterans' Affairs spokesman Steve Murray said Monday.

“These things aren't like fast-food joints, they're not prefabricated,” Murray said. "They're expected to last." The cost of the facility has jumped from $39.7 million to nearly $60 million since the location was approved in 2014, with the increase related to new federal guidelines for veterans' nursing homes.