CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Highland Hospital announced Wednesday it has taken a lease for the former U.S. Sugar Grove Naval Station for operating a 95-bed facility, as well as related services for patients and their families.

The sale of the Pendleton County site was finalized in February 2017 with an unclear future. The 123-acre site was purchased for around $4 million.

Highland Hospital parent company Meridian Behavioral Health Systems and Gersh Academy are partnering on operating a 28-day program to help address the drug crisis in West Virginia. Around 200 jobs are estimated to be created at the site.

“All of the facilities are in very good condition even though it’s been closed for a little while,” Highland Hospital CEO Cynthia Persily said. “We’ll be doing some revisions to the properties in order to be compliant with health licensing laws.”

The facility, according to Persily, will include a large dormitory, admission center, an office complex and an activities center, the latter of which will be the site of recreational programs such as yoga. Eighty single-family homes are also on the property.

“We feel like we would be able to encourage people who graduated from our program to live in our sober living community, perhaps continue their education or continue their job training,” Persily added.

Persily said the program is possible because of a Medicaid waiver allowing for the expansion of drug addiction services in West Virginia. The state Department of Health and Human Resources announced the change in October.

“One of the services they’ll be able to pay for is short-term residential, 28-day programs in facilities larger than 16 beds,” she said.

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., applauded the announcement in a press release Wednesday afternoon.

“The Sugar Grove facility will serve an important purpose. By helping those struggling with substance use disorder, they can turn their lives around, bring their families back together, and make their communities stronger,” he said.

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