Latest News

Preston Commission plans to fight proposed closure of Hopemont Hospital

KINGWOOD – Members of the Preston County Commission said they will send individual letters to their state delegates opposing the closing of Hopemont Hospital.

Hopemont Hospital is a 98-bed, licensed, Medicare-certified long-term care facility in Terra Alta.  It was originally developed to treat West Virginians with tuberculosis.  In 1995, the 35-bed uncertified personal care area of the hospital was closed.  The remaining 98-bed certified personal care area remained open for use by long-term care patients.

“I’ve been in contact with our representatives,” Commissioner Dave Price said. “Delegates (Teri) Sypolt and Buck (Jennings) have been watching this.”

He said Bill J. Crouch, cabinet secretary of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, said he would like to see a private facility built at Hopemont to house patients from state hospitals.

Price said closing the hospital raises the question of where the patients will go.

“Crouch said he didn’t believe he could place the patients by 2022,” he said.  “The patients in the hospital (Hopemont) aren’t easily placed. I know they know that.” 

If House Bill 2626 passes  Hopemont will be one of four state hospitals that will close Jan. 1, 2022. The other three are Lakin Hospital in Mason County, the John Manchin Sr. Hospital in Fairmont  and the Jackie Withrow Hospital in Beckley.

He said Sypolt told him if the hospital closes, the employees will receive benefits.  In an earlier interview, Sypolt said she was going to ask for an amendment to take Hopemont out of the bill. She said Preston County doesn’t have the job options workers in Beckley or Fairmont have.

If passed, HB 2626  will give hospital employees the option to transfer to another position within state government they are qualified for, at the same rate of pay and benefits they are currently receiving.  If they chose not to transfer they will receive a severance package, which includes their current salary and benefits for one year.

Price said closing Hopemont will not only affect the people who work there, it will also hurt the economy.

“Hopemont is the biggest consumer of water and sewerage in Terra Alta,” he said. “If they walk away, Terra Alta will have to raise its (water and sewer) rates.”

Commissioner Samantha Stone cited another problem the closing of the hospital will cause.

“If we allow Hopemont to shut down there will be another empty building,” she said. “We don’t need another empty building in Terra Alta.”

“It appears the people who represent us are not informed,” Price said. “That’s dirty politics. They don’t have a clue.”

Price was referring to Jennings’ statement, “No one had any prior knowledge of the bill until it was presented in a Republican Caucus about 20 minutes before it was voted out of the committee.”

According to the bill, the “age of the facilities results in continuous costly repairs and upgrades to ensure the safety of residents. The cost for utilities, building maintenance and repairs, and payroll costs are not sustainable.”

TWEET @DominionPostWV