New War Memorial Hospital ready to open

April 23, 2012|By TRISH RUDDER |
  • Officials and dignitaries line up to cut a ceremonial ribbon Monday at the new War Memorial Hospital in Berkeley Springs, W.Va.
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. — The new War Memorial Hospital on Fairview Drive will open to the public Saturday, hospital officials said Monday.

Despite the drizzling rain and cold temperature, more than 250 people — many in winter coats — attended Monday’s dedication ceremony for the new hospital.

A tour of the new building followed the ceremony, which was held under a tent in front of the south entrance. 

As part of the dedication ceremony, an American flag that had flown over the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., was raised next to the main entrance by members of the West Virginia Air National Guard’s 167th Airlift Wing.

U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., gave the flag to the hospital.

Capito, one of the ceremony’s speakers, said, “it’s all about partnership — the Morgan County Commission, Valley Health, the hospital board and the Morgan County residents were all pulling in the same direction.”

The two-story, 87,000-square-foot building is twice the size of the old hospital, said Neil McLaughlin, War Memorial Hospital president. Construction began in June 2010, and the new $30 million facility was completed in less than two years.

Similar to the old building, the new facility is a 25-bed critical-access hospital with a 16-bed extended-care nursing home.

About 150 people are employed at War Memorial, he said.

The hospital was designed for patient needs, with easy access in or out, McLaughlin said. The emergency room, surgery department, diagnostic imaging, laboratory, dining room and nursing home all are on the first floor.

One of the hospital’s best features is “it’s light, bright and airy, which is a healing source for patients,” he said.

Morgan County Commission President Stacy Dugan guided a building tour after the dedication ceremony. She is a clinical dietitian who has worked at the hospital for 24 years.

Dugan was impressed with the facility’s new technology.

“All the medical imaging/radiology equipment is new, other than the mammography machine,” she said.

One of her favorite areas is the extended-care nursing home on the south side.

“The rooms are more accommodating and the patients have more privacy. And they have their own outside area, without having to go up and down steps,” Dugan said.

In-patient rooms, rehabilitation services, hospital administrative offices and physicians’ offices are on the second floor, and the helipad is at the back of the building, McLaughlin said.

“No matter what the national debate is about health care and how we get paid or how quality is measured, care must be delivered locally,” McLaughlin said.

McLaughlin said Valley Health did not borrow any money to build the new hospital. He said the cost of the hospital will be paid for through an increase in outpatient services.

The old War Memorial Hospital was owned by Morgan County and managed by Valley Health since 1989. Upon receiving approval in 2010 from the West Virginia Health Care Authority to build a new hospital, Valley Health purchased the assets from the county for $2.75 million. 

“It took courage to do this,” Capito said. “It’s a commitment by the county, and it took courage by the leaders of this community.”

U.S. Sens. Joe Manchin and Jay Rockefeller, both D-W.Va., and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin did not attend, but sent congratulatory letters that were read during the ceremony.

War Memorial Hospital and Valley Health board members also spoke. Hospital trustee chairman C. William Locke said about 600 people toured the facility during an open house Saturday.

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