Logan County Commission President Art Kirkendoll told The Logan Banner that plans for the facility have been moving slowly but steadily despite numerous challenges and that the County Commission has never given up on the project.
Kirkendoll noted he and representatives of the Community Health Foundation clinic in Man had been in contact with West Virginia Senate President Earl Ray Tomblin recently about work on expanding and upgrading healthcare in the Triadelphia district.
At yesterday's Logan County Commission meeting, Gerald Slone had been on the agenda in regards to the Man Hospital, but never showed up.
"We don't know what he wanted to talk about, other than it may have been about health care or a ball field," Kirkendoll said.
Kirkendoll said that a lot of rumors and outright lies have been spread over the years about the Man Hospital project by people who seldom if ever contacted those involved in the efforts to verify them. He noted there had been years of delays including environmental impact studies, claims of Indiana warbling wood bats in the area, a Native American burial ground and countless others.
Representatives involved in the project decided that the newer parts of the building could be saved and utilized to create a 30-plus thousand square foot Level Five Trauma center which would then be connected with the Community Health Foundation Clinic.
Rick Grimmett said the clinic was in danger at one point and the County Commission and Senator Earl Ray Tomblin stepped in to help. Kirkendoll said Hershel Chaffins and clinic administrators had also dealt with a lot of difficult decisions to keep the project going and viable.
Kirkendoll pointed out that the Logan County Commission had intervened on behalf of the project more than once and had paid bills for legal fees and keep up the property. The commission also intervened on behalf of the clinic which was facing an economic hardship by working on a line of credit for the clinic with Logan Bank and Trust.
"The Logan County Commission intends to do all it can to get an expanded and upgraded new healthcare facility in Man," Kirkendoll said of the Trauma Center project. "You can research the project and see who has put in the man hours and the efforts."
Kirkendoll said he received phone calls from three people about the hospital project who wanted to speak on the issue so he invited representatives of the clinic to the County Commission meeting to give the public an update.
Pam Brown discussed how a financial crisis two years ago threatened to shut the clinic down when there were payroll and insurance problems and how the County Commission worked with LB&T on a loan for them. She said Grimmett and others had also been very helpful in assisting the clinic in getting back on track and staying open.
"Today they are still trying to get us healthcare," she said.
Kirkendoll said he just wanted the public to know what was actually going on with the project, which was still viable and being worked on.
"Our number one concern is healthcare in the Man area," Kirkendoll said of the project. "Our second concern is the 70 jobs at stake...It was not the clinics fault or the hospitals fault that ARH closed down the hospital. Over the years there have been a lot of people fighting very hard for the hospital project. ARH used Man Hospital as a cash cow, which lead to its demise."
Kirkendoll said since the closing there had been numerous efforts into what amounted to almost uncharted territory - reopening a closed hospital - which meant mountains of paperwork and bureaucratic hassles such as certificates of need and environmental impact studies, as well as fundraisers by the community, endless meetings with government officials and a lot of bills along the way.
"I have spent a lot of time over the years working on this project myself. Not just with one governor, either, I am on a third governor. The project is not dead and the county has put up money to keep this project viable and to pay legal fees. If we can get this project completed and it keeps one person from dying because they got rapid health care, it is worth all the effort over the years. The County Commission has never given up on this project."
Kirkendoll said he was also assured that the new Route 10 to Man project would also be completed.
After the meeting, Kirkendoll told The Logan Banner that there were more possibilities with the project, including the possibility of expanding the proposed Trauma Center to a 51,000 square foot facility and offering other needed healthcare services there which are not currently offered in the area.