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History Information for Wilmington VA Medical Center

Wilmington VA Medical Center > History Information

President Harry S. Truman approved establishment of a Veterans Administration hospital at Wilmington, Delaware in May 1946. Shortly thereafter, the former Army Air Corps Hospital at New Castle Air Base (today the New Castle County Airport) was taken over by the VA as a temporary installation. On August 26, 1946, the first patients were admitted and were treated by a staff itself comprised of 77% veterans of the Armed Forces.

By February 1947, bed capacity had increased to 150 beds. Approximately ¾ of the patients treated were World War II participants. Meanwhile, activity continued toward construction of a permanent building, with groundbreaking in March 1948.

Formal dedication of the new 336-bed VA hospital was held on April 2, 1950. The ninth VA hospital to open after World War II ended, Wilmington’s facility at the 32-acre site on the edge of Elsmere, DE, was but one of 32 new VA hospitals or major additions scheduled for completion in 1950 alone. A few months later, the Korean War began.

In 1954, residual outpatient activities conducted at downtown Wilmington’s Dravo Building were relocated to the hospital. Remaining VA Regional Office (VARO) non-medical benefit processing completed the transfer to the hospital site by November 1960. Complete administrative consolidation occurred on January 24, 1971, when Medical and Regional Office functions were joined under a single Director to become the Wilmington VA Medical & Regional Office Center. Consolidated one-stop service was now possible for war veterans throughout Delaware, eastern Maryland, southern New Jersey, and southeast Pennsylvania.

The Center’s next addition for patient care was the opening of the Nursing Home Care Unit in September 1978. The 60-bed Nursing Home Care Unit adjoins the hospital with private lounges, rehabilitation therapy and recreation areas, an attractive dining room, and homelike environment for residents.