The House of Delegates would still need to concur.
The Senate amended in the requirement that a new 90-bed replacement facility be built to replace Jackie Withrow and a 60-bed replacement facility be built on the site of Hopemont. The amendments also specify that benefits packages be prepared for employees who would lose their jobs as a result of the hospital sales.
The bills also require the DHHR director to make sure patients are transferred to an area facility.
Senator Dave Sypolt of Preston County said those changes make the bill ensure a workable transition.
The bill doesn’t mean a sale is imminent. It just authorizes the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Resources to explore a sale.
Both hospitals are very old facilities.
“Hopemont has a lot of history in my area,” said Senator Randy Smith of Tucker County, explaining his no vote.
“I’m just telling you I cannot in good conscience turn my back on the people in this area, the patients and the employees.”
Last month, state Department of Health and Human Resources Secretary Bill Crouch told members of the House of Delegates Finance Committee that 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.”