A new outpatient clinic will replace an aging hospital here, providing medical care for veterans in the Walla Walla region, Veterans Affairs Secretary James Nicholson said Friday.

The Jonathan M. Wainwright Memorial Veterans Affairs Medical Center, which serves some 69,000 veterans in southeastern Washington and neighboring states, had been threatened with closure for several years.

The new facility will provide state-of-the-art outpatient services, including primary care and mental health care, Nicholson said in a statement.

"Walla Walla veterans will get a modern outpatient facility that continues the high quality of care they receive from VA," Nicholson said. "Veterans and their families can rest assured that a new world-class outpatient facility will be established."

Nicholson said the new facility will be located on the current Walla Walla campus. The VA will use the rest of the campus for housing and other services for veterans.

The hospital in Walla Walla, a city of 30,000, serves veterans in Eastern Washington, northern Idaho and northeastern Oregon. Saving the hospital became a bipartisan effort for lawmakers from Washington and Idaho, with Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, taking up the cause.