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Highland Clarksburg renovations on schedule, official says

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Renovations at Highland Hospital's new Clarksburg facility are "way ahead of schedule," an official said Friday.

The public got its first peek Friday inside the new mental health facility, which is being renovated from its former use as United Hospital Center. Work began Jan. 15. The facility, along with some land, was gifted to Highland when United Hospital Center found another location.

"The foundation of the building was very strong," said hospital Chief Operating Officer Eric Kennedy. "We needed to update patient rooms to make them psych-safe -- that means none of the patients' furniture is moveable, and there are no physical things in the patients' room that they can harm themselves with."

Highland, a behavioral health treatment system, is headquartered in Charleston. The Clarksburg facility will be its first outside of Charleston.

The project is costing $34 million, which the hospital took out loans for, Kennedy said.

Highland plans to open its west wing, which will house 35 beds for children and adolescents, on Monday. The hospital plans to open the remaining 115 beds for adults early next year.

"Our needs assessment that was done indicates there are not enough beds in the state of West Virginia, and the state representatives from the [Department of Health and Human Resources] also testified to that in our certificate-of-need hearing," Kennedy said.

With only a portion of the hospital open, there are currently 60 employees, Kennedy said. When the rest of the facility opens, it will employ 280 to 290 people, Kennedy said.

The nonprofit hospital will offer inpatient mental health and substance abuse treatment.

The state Health Care Authority approved Highland's request for a certificate of need for the Clarksburg facility in December 2011. Fairmont General Hospital appealed the decision, but dropped its appeal after the state named Fairmont General a primary referral hospital for the William R. Sharpe Jr. Hospital in Weston.

Reach Lori Kersey at lori.kersey@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1240.


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