By Lemor Abrams

RANCHO CORDOVA (CBS13) — It’s a first-of-its-kind veterans hospital for retired troops in the Sacramento area.

As veterans celebrated 50 years since the Vietnam War, the Sacramento Veterans Affairs Medical Center cut the ribbon on its new emergency department on Tuesday.

Veterans with life-threatening emergencies will be able to walk in for care, freeing up beds at area hospitals and potentially speeding up care.

Tuesday offered the first look at the $8 million, 8,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art emergency facility at the center.

It has 12 additional private rooms and a promise to speed up care for local veterans that are used to waiting hours for treatment when every second counts.

Nurse manager Tony Bubba says by this summer, the E.R. won’t be limited to veterans. For the first time, ambulances will be allowed to take any patient to the VA hospital. It’s the first emergency room in Rancho Cordova.

Ken Jervi says it’s a long way for a hospital plagued with the longest appointment wait times among VA hospitals in the state.

“To come here at the time, I would spend a minimum of say between 7 to 9 hours,” he said.

The director of Sacramento County’s emergency services is hopeful the changes will help the county.

“We do have extended wait times for ambulance crews in all our hospitals,” said David Magnino. “We’re hoping that this might alleviate some but we’ll have to wait and see.”

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