MADISON, W.Va. — Local dignitaries were on hand for Friday for a ribbon cutting ceremony which has been 12 years in the making.  The new Boone Memorial Hospital was officially dedicated in Madison.  The modern 25 bed facility provides critical care to the area and replaces a facility which had been in operation more than 50 years.

“When we look at a hospital, we really consider it to be infrastructure of the community,” said hospital CEO Virgil Underwood. “The coal industry has taken quite a hit down here and we look at this hospital as not only a place where people can come and get excellent healthcare for decades to come, but we’re also the second largest employer in the county and I think we represent hope as well.”

The plans to build the new hospital originated at a time the coal industry was soaring and Boone County’s coffers were flush with cash.  The scenario changed radically over the course of the development of the new hospital and threatened to derail the process.

“There certainly was a concern and to be totally honest there’s a concern going forward about what our payer mix looks like,” Underwood said. “Today the percentage of commercial customers we have is significantly less that what it was a few years ago.”

Funds to build the hospital were largely provided through the United States Department of Agriculture rural development programs.

“The USDA is proud to participate in funding this hospital project to secure the future of health care for the citizens of Boone County and the Region,” said Robert Lewis USDA State Director for West Virginia.  “The $31.8 million loan is the largest direct loan ever made by USDA in West Virginia.”

Underwood stressed the hospital board had also been conservative in spending as belts in the community tightened.  The concern now is the greater number of Medicaid and public insurance customers and what the future of reimbursement will hold.   Underwood said one positive for the hospital’s finances has been the daily census of the facility.  While most rural hospitals have seen a drop in patient numbers in recent years, Boone Memorial has actually seen an increase in patient stays.

The hospital features a number of new amenities and improvements over the old facility. The additions include enhanced surgical units with a wider offering of procedures, modernized CT scanning capabilities, and an improved Emergency Room. The hospital features 25 beds, all in private rooms.  The new facility replaces one which featured semi-private rooms, some of which didn’t have a bathroom.

“We are committed to making sure Boone County citizens have accessible, superior, local health care and that the future of health care is secured for the County and Region. The Board wants to express its appreciation to the USDA and the many who have dedicated the time and effort to make this day possible.” said Bob Brown President of the BMH Board of Directors.

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