Lake Baldwin nursing center to reopen as state veterans nursing home

A Lake Baldwin nursing center that closed its doors to residents two years ago will reopen 120 beds as a state run facility.

U.S. Rep. John Mica held a ceremony Wednesday morning to officially transfer the nursing center from the federal government to the State of Florida. The bill to make the transfer from the Federal Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to the Florida Department of Veterans' Affairs (FDVA) passed at a record-setting pace.

"We're talking about a mere 20 days to accomplish this historic event for Florida's veterans," said Mike Prendergast, executive director of FDVA.

Since December of 2013, the center has been a swing space for outpatients, after beds closed and patients were transferred to a new VA facility in Lake Nona.

This will be the eighth facility for the network of state veterans nursing homes, Prendergast said.

The Florida Department of Veterans' Affairs is planning to bring 150 new employees to the nursing home when it opens.

Mica said making the change from a federally run to a state run facility will shave half the time of reopening and cut costs significantly.

"Everybody came together it's not a really controversial matter, although some people could make it more difficult, but we succeeded," said Mica.

Prendergast said he will brief the governor and cabinet on March 29, to secure a timeline. At this time, Prendergast said the center will not reopen in 2016, and it may require more than a year to complete the transfer.

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