By Mary Wade Burnside
Times West Virginian
After clearing a few hurdles, Highland-Clarksburg Hospital opens its first wing today, the one that will treat children and adolescents, with a goal of having the rest of the facility open in January.
However, that does not mean patients necessarily will be admitted right away, said Eric Kennedy, the hospital’s new chief operating officer.
“Patients come to us at a point of crisis, so it’s highly unlikely that if someone has a problem today that they would wait until Monday,” Kennedy said last week. “So they probably would be sent somewhere else, perhaps to Pittsburgh. We don’t have any patients waiting to come in.”
The facility has been in the works since early 2009, when an announcement was made that Highland would take over the space vacated by United Hospital Center when it was relocated to a new building in Bridgeport in October 2010.
However, Fairmont General Hospital asked the West Virginia Health Care Authority for a hearing regarding Highland’s certificate of need (CON), as officials expressed fears that the facility would take away some of Fairmont General’s patients who are diverted from the William R. Sharpe Jr. Hospital in Weston. The process went on until last year after a deal was worked out that designated Fairmont General as a “primary referral hospital” for Sharpe.
So far, between 50 and 60 employees have been hired, with a goal of a total of about 260 when the hospital is fully operational, Kennedy said.