UPDATE 6/28/12 @ 3:30 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) – West Virginia has one of the highest numbers of people experiencing some sort of mental health disorider in the entire country.
But a new state of the art facility in Charleston is stepping up to provide quality care and jobs.
It’s been 19 years in the making with its fair share of obstacles.
"We've had mergers that have failed, failed properties,” James Strawn, Director of Marketing and Community Education, Highland Hospital said. “Four years ago this hospital, we were going to break ground on it and the market crashed."
But on Thursday, the new Highland Hospital debuted in Charleston. A hospital that county leaders said is setting itself a part from others across the country.
"Charleston and Kanawha County is becoming a medical mecca for the state,” Kent Carper, President, Kanawha County Commission said. “Just like Morgantown is very significant, so is the presence in the medical community in Charleston, Kanawha County. This really enhances the complete picture of taking care of someone, physically and mentally."
The hospital saw a need to build after having to turn away hundreds of patients due to lack of beds. The new 73,000 square foot facility will have 98 beds, nearly doubling it’s current capacity.
"The more patients we are able to take in and help recover, the fewer who will have out there who will need the treatment and not get it," Dr. Rahul Gupta, Kanawha-Charleston Health Department said.
More beds and better treatment.
"We finally have a therapeutic environment that is bright, and shiny and airy and really built therapeutically for behavioral health disorders and to treat those suffering from depression, or anxiety, schizophrenia, substance abuse and other behavioral health issues," Strawn said.
And it’s also creating more jobs. The hospital will bring 30 to 40 new jobs making it an economic driver in the Kanawha Valley.
A state of the art facility also helping thousands of West Virginian’s suffering from mental health issues each year.
Hospital officials said they plan on moving patients from the current facility into the new building in mid-July.
“Up until yesterday we did not know we were going to be able to pull this off, and then we got the phone call,” said Mike Casdorph, director of facilities and construction.
“You could hear cheers through the building … emails spread like wild fire,” Chief Operating Officer Lisa Layden said.
Directors of the hospital are excited because this project was set to break ground nearly three years ago.
“I think it dealt with the economy and the recession and the way the bond market started fluctuating," Casdorph said. "We could not manage to get financing for the project."
The hospital provides mental health services. It managed to secure financing for the $29 million project Tuesday.
Parts of the existing Highland Hospital date back to 1939, so some of the facilities are old and outdated. Directors of the hospital say the new facility will be much better equipped to treat patients.
“We'll be able to flex our units so that when the need of a particular unit changes, we’ll be able to flex our beds to accommodate the needs of the season,” Layden said.
The four-story building will initially have 98 beds for patients and will bring much more than just health care to the area.
“Fifty-seven new jobs, plus during construction -- there will be a little over 100 construction jobs,” Casdorph said.
It's an immediate boost to the economy that directors say will only grow with time.
The groundbreaking is set for May 2.