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Developer to donate land for new W.Va. hospital

August 22, 2006|by DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.VA. - The firm developing the Huntfield community has agreed to donate 30 acres along U.S. 340 for a new Jefferson Memorial Hospital, a hospital official and Mayor Peggy Smith said Monday night at a Charles Town City Council meeting.

The site is part of larger parcel of land which developer Greenvest L.C. plans to use for town houses, a restaurant, a bank, a pharmacy, a day-care center and other businesses, according to a news release from the developer and West Virginia University Hospitals-East, which operates City Hospital in Martinsburg, W.Va., and Jefferson Memorial Hospital in Ranson, W.Va.

Jefferson Memorial Hospital officials have been discussing building a new hospital in recent years, saying the current 60-bed hospital at 300 S. Preston St. in Ranson has space limitations and parts of its layout are not conducive to efficient operations.

Also, expected increases in patients also demands a new hospital, hospital officials have said.

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Jefferson Memorial Hospital is seeing 18 to 20 patients come through its doors every day, but that is expected to increase to about 40 to 45 patients a day within five years, Roger M. Eitelman, chief executive officer of West Virginia University Hospitals-East, said last year.

Eitelman told council members Monday that about 13 sites in the county have been considered for the hospital and the search was narrowed to four properties.

Eitelman said hospital officials began talking to Greenvest officials in May about the site on U.S. 340. The sides were discussing a purchase of the property by the hospital, but Smith began encouraging Greenvest to donate the property, Eitelman said.

The site is north of Old Cave Road and is known as the Hayes property, Eitelman said. Greenvest has an option to buy the property and has asked to annex the land into the city, Smith said. The parcel where Greenvest is planning the town houses and other development is on 183 acres.

Greenvest officials will explain their plan in detail to City Council members on Sept. 5, Smith said.

"This is just wonderful news and it's a prime example of what we can do by working together," Smith said during the meeting.

"I'm absolutely humbled," said Eitelman, adding that Greenvest's decision to donate the land means the hospital can save millions of dollars in land purchase costs and use that money for needed equipment for the facility.

"Greenvest is honored to be a partner with West Virginia University Hospitals-East to provide medical services to the community," Jim Duszynski, chief executive officer of Greenvest, said in the news release.

Eitelman said the hospital is expected to take ownership of the land next year, at which time it will begin construction of physician office space. It will take about seven to 10 years to build a new hospital at the site, Eitelman said.

The hospital will open with 65 beds and eventually could offer 200 beds, Eitelman said.

Hospital officials have said previously that the hospital could cost $40 million to $60 million to build.

Although the current hospital has limitations, it can be used in the future for a hospice facility or a senior living center, Eitelman said.

"That building in Ranson is going to be used," Smith said after the meeting. And even though a new hospital is needed, the emergency room at the current facility will be expanded to take care of increasing numbers of patients until the new hospital is built, Eitelman said.

To expand the emergency room, the hospital plans to tear down an old nursing home it owns next to its current building, Eitelman said.

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