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WCH Will Seek $6 Million In Bonds

By Staff | Jan 28, 2009

Wetzel County Hospital has received the governmental approval to seek bonds in the amount of up to $6 million to underwrite a large upgrade to the facility in New Martinsville as well as pay off debt from bonds issued in 2003.

The Wetzel County Building Commission held a public meeting on the matter Tuesday afternoon in the county commission chambers where no one from the public attended to voice any concerns or support for the matter. The commission then unanimously passed a resolution authorizing the bond sale. The Wetzel County Commission then reconvened their meeting and did likewise. A closing on the matter has yet to be set as some title work still remains to be completed.

WCH Chief Executive Officer George Couch thanked the governmental bodies for their cooperating. “We’ll actually reduce our operating expenses,” Couch explained of the upgrade.

The project includes several components, the largest being the expansion and renovation of emergency department at a cost of $2.3 million. An additional $300,000 will be used in that department for the replacement of equipment and furnishings.

A similar face lift is planned for the patient rooms at a price tag of $750,000. Couch said they are hoping to redo all the rooms with new beds, wallpaper, flooring, draperies, and furnishings. “We hope to convert the majority of the rooms to private rooms,” said Couch. He said when considering the average daily census for the hospital, they should be able to give all patients the luxury of a private room, but some rooms will continue to have two beds in the event that more beds are needed.

The Cardiac Rehab department is also the target of an $80,000 renovation. “We intend to upgrade and replace equipment and furnishings,” said Couch who said there are many people who utilize that department and the hospital can provide them better services in an improved atmosphere.

A total of $300,000 is slated to upgrade the pharmacy with a new hood in the area where chemotherapy and other medications that need to be mixed are concocted as well as an automated medication dispensing system. The latter, said Couch, “Will allow us to provide better control and accountability.”

Nearly $550,000 will be used to pay off the lease for the facility’s Toshiba 32-slice CT Scanner. The replacement of an emergency generator will cost $200,000.

A $100,000 expenditure will upgrade the Steris Unit sterilization equipment for the operating room. The current equipment, said Couch, was installed when the hospital was built in 1979. While it is working fine, it does need to be upgraded.

A total of $100,000 is slated for the upgrade to CPSI Electronic Medical Records. For $75,000 they will upgrade to CPSI Integrated Human Resources/Payroll.

The final upgrade, $60,000, will install direct lines from the hospital’s gas tanks to the operating room and intensive care unit. Currently direct lines for oxygen and other gases are only installed in patient rooms the the hospital uses portable air in other areas. “It’s much, much cheaper and much more convenient,” noted Couch.

The total of those projects is $4,813,889. When that number is reduced by remaining bond proceeds from 2003 of $430,046, a congressional appropriation of $859,714, proceeds from the sale of the home health division of $611,977, then the grand total for the project is $2,912,152. Then $2,582,499 is needed to pay the existing debt from the $4.4 million 2003 bond issue.

“Overall we’re going to reduce our outlay of funds by paying off leases and other debts, but we’re going to be significantly improving our ER and many other services in the hospital,” said Couch. Given the totals projected by Couch, the total bond issue would be $5,494,651, but up to $6 million was authorized by the commission.

A similar bond resolution and authorization will be held again Feb. 9 at noon in the commission chambers. It will provide up to $1 million for the building of a new 911 center near the hospital on the site of the former Lewis Wetzel Personal Care Home. The building commission held a public meeting Jan. 20, but it was discovered that there was lack of public notice as the legal advertisement about the meeting was published in the Tyler Star News instead of the Wetzel Chronicle.