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MCHD working with county on current, future facility needs

MORGANTOWN — In terms of facilities, the short-term plan for the Monongalia County Health Department is to work with the county commission to address urgent issues with its aging buildings.

The long-term plan, move.

During a recent meeting of the Monongalia County Board of Health, MCHD Executive Director Anthony DeFelice said the commission has agreed to fund the replacement of two five-ton cooling units on the roof of the MCHD’s WIC building, at 1000 Elmer Prince Drive.

The cost of that replacement is estimated at $18,800. The units to be replaced were purchased in 2013 and 1994.

As for the MCHD’s central office, located next door at 453 Van Voorhis Road, the roof of the building is leaking.

“This is kind of a major problem,” DeFelice said. “We’re at a point now where if we replaced the whole roof it would be hundreds of thousands of dollars. I mean big bucks. So we’re looking at patching part of it.”

MCHD has an estimate for $57,350 to replace the roof’s caps and flashing, among other improvements. A follow-up infrared scan of the roof to be conducted this summer will help pinpoint specific problem areas for another $1,200 or so. The commission has agreed to cover those costs as well.

DeFelice said these investments pale in comparison to those looming on the horizon.

He noted the WIC building, constructed in the early 1900s, continues to primarily rely on the original plumbing and electrical infrastructure. He said the cost of addressing all the building’s needs would be “enormous.”

MCHD’s main building relies on the original boilers installed when the facility was built in 1974. According to DeFelice, they have two years of use left, at most. The cost to replace them is estimated at $127,000.

Which begs the question, how much longer will the MCHD be in those locations?

During a January work session, WVU Health System President and CEO Albert Wright restated WVU’s desire to acquire the health department property from the county.

Wright said the opening of the new WVU Medicine Children’s facility will signal the start of a new phase of development. And that development is going to require property.

The work session resulted in an agreement to form a working group with representatives of the MCHD, the commission and WVU to figure out what the health department needs and how much it will cost to provide it in a suitable new location.

The health department’s recent growth has already warranted expansion beyond the Van Voorhis Road building.

The department’s threat preparedness operations have moved to the old DHHR Northern Operations building, on the Morgantown Municipal Airport campus, while its environmental services wing is now housed at the Airport Business Park, off Hartman Run Road.

DeFelice said he’s looking at what MCHD would need to bring everyone back under one roof.

“I think we have a plan, both short-term and long-term,” DeFelice said. “I need to get some information to Commissioner [Jeff] Arnett on space requirements, not only at WIC, but also bringing everybody together in one building. So I’m in the process of getting the square footage requirements and also parking requirements and other requirements.”

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