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Hopemont Bill dies in the legislature


The Preston County News & Journal

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Hopemont Hospital is safe for now as House Bill 3102 calling for the sale of the hospital died in the end of the legislative session with no final action on the bill.

“As soon as we had that amendment on it, we knew we had it stopped,” Senator Randy Smith (R-Tucker) told the Preston News & Journal.

On Thursday, the Senate had added an amendment onto the House Bill that called for a new 60-bed facility to be built on the Hopemont property in Terra Alta.

“There is a provision in this bill that states a new facility to be constructed on the same property,” Sypolt said on Friday. “We have made provisions for the patients to be transferred to the new facility. We have taken care of the employees and the basics.”

“Let us let the system work,” Sypolt finished on Friday.

Smith said Senator Tom Takubo (R-Kanawha) helped by adding the amendment on Thursday to the bill.

“The Chairman of the Senate House and Human Resources Committee put the amendment on the bill for us to have the facility built on the property,” Smith said.

“Once we got that amendment on there I knew we had the leverage,” Smith said. “We either knew we were going to get a new hospital or it would die.”

The House Committee on Health & Human Resources had to agree with the amendment the Senate added to the bill to have a new facility built on or at the Hopemont property.

But, according to Smith, the state Department of Health & Human Resources, “did not like the amendment.”

“We were getting a lot of support from our friends in the House who supported the amendment we added,” Smith explained. “They were not willing to support it if the amendment was taken out.”

The third reading of the bill took place in the Senate on Friday afternoon and passed with a vote of 25 for, and 7 against.

The bill was then returned to the House of Delegates where it got hung up for the remainder of the session.

“We were waiting all day for it to come back from the House,” Smith said. “There was a lot of jockeying and moving going on.”

“So it got tied up over there until time ran out and it died,” Smith said. “If we hadn’t got the amendment on there it might have passed through.”

According to Smith, this was the closest the Legislature has come to closing Hopemont once and for all.

“With the patients they have there its going to be impossible to find a place for them,” Smith admitted.

The future? He doesn’t speculate.

“One good thing about being in leadership, you can stall and head things off,” Smith said.

Some details have been circulating about several construction and improvement projects happening at Hopemont Hospital over the past few weeks.

Smith told the Preston News & Journal that he knew of two projects costing the state DHHR in excess of $1.2 million.

He talked about the two projects happening at Hopemont while speaking on the Senate floor Friday afternoon.

“They (DHHR) are currently putting on a $521,000 roof on a building they are going to sell,” Smith said Friday. “They just put in a $750,000 boiler system.”

“How do you trust an agency that puts $1.2 million into a facility and in the same year puts in a bill to shut it down,” Smith said to the Preston News & Journal.

Smith said similar legislation House Bill 2366 to sell off the Raleigh County Jackie Withrow Hospital in Beckley was killed as well.

“Their (DHHR) job on this is to take care of these patients who are citizens of West Virginia,” Smith said.

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