CHARLESTON, W.Va. — State Department of Health and Human Resources Secretary Bill Crouch told members of the House of Delegates Finance Committee Monday the Jackie Withrow Hospital in Beckley is a long-term liability for the state.
“It (the building) is very old. I was there last week and it’s not the best environment for the residents,” Crouch told the committee. “My plan is to find a buyer for these beds who will build a new facility in the same area.”
After hearing from Crouch, the committee passed the bill (HB 2366) that would allow the state to divest from the hospital. The privatization bill was sent to the full House for consideration.
There are currently $366,000 in maintenance repairs needed at the hospital this year which the state can’t afford, Crouch said.
Finding a buyer for the long-term elderly care facility won’t be easy, Crouch said. Other facilities in the area are full and most of the approximately 91 patients at Jackie Withrow need specialized care that takes more staff. Crouch said it will probably be an out-of-state company that eventually becomes interested in the 199 beds the facility is currently licensed for.
Crouch told delegates he has three goals for the transition:
“Get the state out of our potential problems with this building; get the residents into a new facility that will be a much better environment for them and finally, to provide the employees with some sort of severance or additional revenue at the close of this transfer of property,” Crouch said.
He said the workers should be taken care of like state workers were when the state got out of the workers’ compensation business several years ago. There are currently 137 workers at the facility and 26 temps.
The state operates three other long-term facilities, which Crouch is also hoping to privatize through individual pieces of legislation including Hopemont Health Center in Preston County, Lakin Hospital in Mason County and the John Manchin Sr. Health Center in Fairmont.
The Jackie Withrow Hospital was first called Pinecrest Hospital and was established by the legislature in 1927 as tuberculosis sanitarium. The name was changed in 2009 to honor former Raleigh County Delegate Jackie Withrow.