Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Workers Blast Plan to Sell 4 Hospitals

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Workers Blast Plan to Sell 4 Hospitals

Article excerpt

State workers gathered in the West Virginia House chambers Tuesday to denounce a bill that would let the Department of Health and Human Resources sell four state facilities that together house more than 260 senior citizens. House Bill 4352, introduced last week, would allow the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources to sell Lakin Hospital in Mason County, Jackie Withrow Hospital in Beckley, Hopemont Hospital in Preston County and Joe Manchin Senior Health Care Center in Fairmont. If passed, it directs the DHHR to develop a plan to unload the three hospitals by Nov. 30, and to sell each and divest itself of the contracts associated with them by July 1, 2017.

"We're more than just a number on a spreadsheet; we're more than just 41 licensed beds waiting to be sold, said Michelle Crandall, administrator at Joe Manchin Senior Health Care Center. "We house 27 of the most wonderful elderly people you can imagine.

The four facilities in the bill are among seven hospitals run by the state - the other three include West Virginia's two psychiatric hospitals - Mildred Mitchell Bateman Hospital in Huntington and William R. Sharpe Jr. Hospital in Weston - and one medical hospital, Welch Community Hospital. Jackie Withrow is the largest facility included in the bill, with 144 beds, and Joe Manchin the smallest, with 41 beds.

The West Virginia House of Delegates held a public hearing Tuesday on the bill, which calls for the DHHR to develop "strategies to minimize the effects on state and contract employees, as well as "strategies to minimize the effects on long-term care facility residents. The bill also would create a fund within the state treasury called the "Health Care Facilities Liquidation Fund.

No one at the public hearing spoke in favor of the bill.

The bill comes two years after an unsuccessful attempt by the DHHR to privatize two psychiatric hospitals. …

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