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WVU Hospitals plans $52 million outpatient center

WVU Hospitals plans to build a $52 million, 109,000-square-foot outpatient center at University Town Centre near Morgantown, hospital officials announced Friday.

The facility, which still needs a certificate of need from the state Health Care Authority, will include 127 exam rooms and will house up to 10 clinics, WVU Hospitals CEO and president Bruce McClymonds said.

“The goal is to accommodate future expansion of outpatient services,” McClymonds said.  “Many of our clinics here on campus are running at or near 100 percent occupancy.  We just need more space for that.”

Growth is also expected for outpatient services, McClymonds said.

“The Healthcare Reform Act will likely increase the demands for clinic visits, and the current outpatient capacity at the Physician Office Center is insufficient to support any substantial growth,” McClymonds said.

The announcement comes as WVU Hospitals is also planning a large tower expansion at Ruby Memorial Hospital.  Combined, the two projects could create up to 800 jobs, McClymonds said.

WVU Hospitals will submit a certificate of need application next week.  The state Health Care Authority could approve that certificate as early as May.  If there are no further delays, construction could begin later this year, McClymonds said.

“If that were to occur, we’d have construction starting later this year and about a year to 15 months worth of construction,” he said.

The project will expand access for patients and broaden the scope of what WVU Hospitals offers, McClymonds said.  The clinics at the new facility will include: Family Medicine; Behavioral Medicine; Neurology; Cardiology; Internal Medicine/Medicine Specialties; Obstetrics and Gynecology; and Pediatrics. The building and site plans have been designed with consideration for future expansions.

The project will not use any state funds; hospital officials also do not anticipate any extraordinary rate increase.

“We don’t get separate state funding at the hospital anyway, and we’re not asking for it,” McClymonds said.

Last year, WVU Hospitals’ outpatient clinics had 433,579 visits in Morgantown, a press release said.  Over the next three years, the number could increase to 536,909, with a quarter at the new outpatient center, the release said.

Moreover, the space currently occupied by the Sleeth Family Medicine Center on Ruby’s campus will be needed for education programs for WVU Health Services, according to hospital officials.

McClymonds says they hope to have the outpatient center ready by 2016.  Hospital officials are hopeful a new proposed interchange off I-79 is completed by that time.

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