12:15 p.m. Friday, June 23, 2017 UPDATE:
Gov. Jim Justice (D-WV) has announced that he will veto House Bill 113 which would allow the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources to sell Jackie Withrow Hospital in Beckley, WV. In a news release, the Governor said because the Legislature did not include other state properties similar to Withrow in the bill, West Virginia will not see results equating to DHHR efficiency.
“We need to evaluate our needs across the entire state, an this bill would only single out Jackie Withrow Hospital,” Gov. Justice said. “Only focusing on one hospital wont’ get the job done – it’s a half-measure. Secretary Crouch and his team have done a fantastic job of crafting a plan to help the patients, staff and communities in need of a new state facility. It’s too bad that this legislation watered down the plan put forward by DHHR.”
“I want the residents and the staff at Jackie Withrow to know that I hear them and that my focus is on providing the best possible care to our people. I’m vetoing this bill because we can’t settle for upgrading just one hospital at a time. I want the Legislature to adopt the full DHHR plan to revitalize our state facilities.”
West Virginia DHHR secretary Bill Crouch issued this statement in response to the Governor’s action
“Governor Justice has asked that I prepare a comprehensive statewide plan for all of our state facilities that will benefit the patients in our care, reward our dedicated employees and generate economic development with new construction in the communities where these facilities are located. I will be working with the legislators from these areas to determine what course they would like to pursue, as well as with the staff of these facilities to get their input. I will also be meeting with city and county officials to discuss how we can make these projects an integral part of their communities.
The State of West Virginia loses millions of dollars every year in the operation of DHHR’s facilities. I believe that by working together, we can save the state millions of dollars annually, improve the care of the patients, ensure our employees retain their jobs and promote economic development in these communities. I will be prepared to submit a new plan to the Legislature prior to the next legislative session to replace these aged facilities with new, modern facilities to improve living conditions for our patients.”
ORIGINAL STORY: House Bill 113 that plans to sell Jackie Withrow Long-Term Care Facility passed the through Senate on June 19, 2017 and is now awaiting to be signed by the Governor. The bill outlines plans to sell the hospital and creates the “Jackie Withrow Long Term Care Facility Development Fund.”
Although hospital residents and employees were concerned for their futures, House Delegate for the 30th District, Mick Bates, reassured the public that this was the best version of the bill and he will continue to work on the project. He also said the bill will not go into affect immediately on July 1.
The bill allows the Department of Health and Human Resources to make requirements for a new facility which will be built within five miles of the current location. It also sets up severance packages for hospital employees.