CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — For the first time since its inception, Highland-Clarksburg Hospital has new leadership at the helm.

Michael Casdorph, who officially retired as chief executive officer Oct. 1, started with Charleston in 2010, the beginning of what he calls a “fun ride” in his career.

“I coordinated the building of the hospital in Charleston. As it was wrapping up, the board asked me if I would coordinate the construction on the Clarksburg hospital, and I agreed to do that,” Casdorph said.

Casdorph was involved in every facet of getting the new hospital off the ground running, from negotiations with the state about what types of services would be offered to the Certificate of Need process.

Finally, construction began in January 2013.

“I oversaw all the construction on the hospital, the conversion from a med-surg hospital from United Hospital to a psychiatric hospital for Highland-Clarksburg,” Casdorph said. “We completed the first phase of construction in August 2013, opened our children’s unit on Aug. 19. We then went forward and opened our forensics unit in December 2013 and just started watching it grow as we went forward.”

During his time with Highland-Clarksburg, Casdorph served in various capacities, most recently as Chief Operating Officer before becoming Chief Executive Officer in 2015.

“It’s been a fun ride,” he said. “I thoroughly enjoyed it. I loved meeting with and talking with the employees, and I’ve watched the hospital grow from what I refer to as the ‘darkness’ when UHC left and all the lights were off to the light that Highland-Clarksburg is today.”

Throughout all of the hospital’s stages of growth has been one common theme for Casdorph — a sense of pride in what he was able to develop in Clarksburg.

“The most rewarding to me was watching the construction and waiting for the first patient to come into the facility because that indicated that this dream and concept of a psychiatric hospital in Clarksburg had become a reality,” he said. “It’s what I refer to as ‘the journey from concept to reality.’ It was watching the whole facility take shape and take place.”

Having seen the full process from its very beginnings to what stands on the property today, Casdorph admits it was bittersweet to walk out the doors for a final time.

“It was a difficult decision to leave because I had so much invested in the facility, but my home is in Kenna, West Virginia, which is just south of Ripley, so I was driving two hours each way every day to be able to take care of the hospital,” he said.

That drive left little time to spend with his wife and their grandchildren.

“We love going to football games and wrestling meets and doing things with them, and it just made it very difficult with me being out of town,” he said. “While it was a difficult decision, it was one that I’m looking forward to this next chapter and spending time with my beautiful wife.”

And with a smooth transition bringing in interim CEO Victoria Jones, he is confident the facility is in good hands.

“Jones started at Highland-Clarksburg in July as Chief Operating Officer. She formerly served as the commissioner for the Bureau of Behavioral Health and Health Facilities, as well as the CEO at both Mildred Mitchell-Bateman Hospital in Huntington and William R. Sharpe Jr. Hospital in Weston.

“I had already started transitioning things over to her. Vicki Jones is well-known in the state of West Virginia,” Casdorph said. “She has a wide range of experience with hospitals. She fit in very nicely with the employees. When the board announced she would be the interim CEO, I think it was all accepted very nicely for the employees because they see a continuation and someone who’s well experienced with leading the hospital in this next chapter.”

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