MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- A $248 million expansion of WVU Hospitals would add 139 patient beds by the end of the four-year project and help meet what officials said Friday is an ever-growing demand for care.
The project includes $32 million in financing and other costs, bringing the total proposed investment to $280 million, said President and Chief Executive Officer Bruce McClymonds.
He said a certificate-of-need application will be filed next week with the West Virginia Health Care Authority, which still must approve the plans. However McClymonds said the need is clear: Lack of bed space forced WVU Hospitals to close and delay access to stable patients for the equivalent of 80 days last year.
"Imagine, waiting for care when you're in need," said Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, who attended a news conference announcing the plans. Tomblin said the expansion would help alleviate the strain on the staff and patients in a state with "less than ideal" health conditions.
West Virginia has high rates of obesity, diabetes, cancer and other conditions.
McClymonds attributes a 50 percent increase in demand for beds to an aging population and a growing recognition among West Virginians that they no longer need to leave the state for high-quality care.
"Our mission is to improve the quality of health care that we deliver and to attain the next level of performance as an organization," he said. "We think that to fail to do this would be to abdicate our responsibility within the state of West Virginia."
McClymonds said no state funds are being sought for the project and "no extraordinary rate increase is anticipated." It would be the largest construction project since Ruby Memorial Hospital was built in the 1980s.
The project also would be a major source of economic development for north-central West Virginia. It's expected to create about 750 jobs across WVU Healthcare, which includes WVU Hospitals and University Health Associates.