Saturday, June 05, 2010 - War Memorial Breaks Ground for New Hospital
Valley Health and War Memorial Hospital officials broke ground Friday, June 4, on a $30 million replacement hospital before a crowd of approximately 200 people, including many local residents along with local and state government representatives.

Planning for the new hospital began seven years ago, and in about 20 months, the dream will become a reality, noted Bill Locke, chairman of the War Memorial Hospital board of directors. Much effort went into securing land and funding, obtaining state approval, and planning and designing the new facility, he continued. “Morgan County and surrounding communities will be served by a more efficient, modern structure manned by the same dedicated professionals,” Locke said. The new 87,000 square-foot-facility will have 25 acute care/skilled beds and 16 long-term care beds, an expanded emergency department, more space for outpatient services, and upgraded technologies.

Valley Health President and CEO Mark H. Merrill thanked the local residents who wrote letters, spoke to their elected representatives, and contacted the West Virginia Health Care Authority in support of the project. “I am convinced that without your support this day would not be a reality.”

The new hospital represents great economic development opportunities for Morgan County, stated Morgan County Commission President Brenda Hutchinson. Valley Health has invested in the health and wellbeing of our residents and community, she added. “With the new hospital, we have a wonderful economic engine for Morgan County, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. This county will move forward with this project,” Hutchinson said.

Mary Jo Brown, regional representative for West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin, offered the governor’s best wishes for the project. “Few things are more important to my fellow West Virginians than quality healthcare,” Brown read from the Governor’s letter. “This facility will be a tremendous benefit to the citizens of Morgan County, as well as to the entire state of West Virginia.”

Speaking on behalf of Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito, Chris Strovel, Eastern Panhandle field representative, extended Capito’s congratulations. “The partnership among the Morgan County Commission, Valley Health, and the citizens of Morgan County can serve as a model for rural hospitals,” he said. “Americans deserve access to quality medical services whether they live in a county of 15,000 residents or a city of millions.” Strovel also expressed Capito’s belief that the new hospital will spur economic development and serve as an incentive for new medical providers to come to Berkeley Springs.

The new hospital is being constructed on an 80.5 -acre site along Fairview Drive in Berkeley Springs, approximately 1.5 miles from the current facility. The project is expected to be completed in spring of 2012. War Memorial Hospital was purchased by Valley Health in April after being managed by Valley Health since 1989.