LOUISVILLE, Ky (WDRB) -- The aging Ireland Army Community Hospital at Fort Knox is finally closing.

It will be replaced by an $80 million state-of-the art medical clinic. The funding was included in the newly-signed Defense Bill.

“It's definitely good news for us here,” said Retired Major Gen. Bill Barron.

Barron is director of the CORE Committee, formed to protect and grow Ft. Knox.

He says the Ireland Army Hospital, originally built in the mid-1950s, has outlived its usefulness.

“Quite honestly, it's hard to maintain current standards of care when you're operating with on old facility like that,” he said.

Sen. Mitch McConnell has been pushing for the upgrade to be placed in the defense bill, including in a floor speech last month in which he called the facility, “…an important project I've championed, literally, for years,” said McConnell.

In a statement, McConnell said, “Our men and women in uniform deserve the very best, and I am proud to have helped ensure that they will have the kind of medical facility they deserve.”

The new clinic will be 100,000 square feet.

That's much smaller than Ireland, but because of reductions in personnel at Ft. Knox, much of the hospital is no longer being used anyway.

“The upper floors have been shuttered for a number of years,” said Barron.

Those needing inpatient treatment will be handled by local hospitals through service agreements.

Barron believes the investment in the new clinic bodes well for the future of Ft. Knox.

“We're excited. And this particular clinic is going to be built where it can be expanded if need be, so that's a wise decision,” he said.

Barron says construction could begin next summer, with the clinic opening as early as 2018.

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