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Bill Capo / Eyewitness News
Email: bcapo@wwltv.com | Twitter: @billcapo

NEW ORLEANS -- Have you ever seen what a billion dollars looks like?

The Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System, the new VA Hospital is a $995 million project, and the first building just opened.

The iconic former Pan American Life building on Canal Street has been completely renovated as the administrative headquarters for the entire complex.

'I think people are even more excited now, because they are seeing it coming to reality, people working out of here,' said Associate Director Dr. Stephanie Repasky.

The project architect says work is about half finished on the entire nine building campus. It's an amazingly complex project, with 1500 workers, and the plans alone are 7,000 pages. It even takes computers to track the work being done.

'We have iPads that every resident engineer can go through the building, and pull up any drawing that they want, make notes on the drawings,' said Project Executive Mark Brideweser.

When finished in 2016, they say the 200-bed facility will be one of the largest VA hospitals in the country.

Psychologist Stephanie Repasky worked at the old hospital before becoming Associate Director here.

'This one really will be state of the art,' said Repasky. 'What I love most about it is it's built for patients, and really by patients. So we did over a hundred veterans and their family members before we did the design to figure out what they wanted.'

'They wanted when they came in the door, a place where they felt at home, where they could get information immediately,' said project Engineering Coordinator Liz Failla.

They just opened a recruitment center on the Pan American building first floor, because they have 1100 jobs to fill by the time the doors open.

'The range of jobs will range from police, facilities jobs such as mechanics,' said Inge Alston of Human Resources. 'Emergency department technicians, nurse managers.'

For more information about the jobs available, click here.

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