The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

February 15, 2013

WVU Hospitals plans outpatient center

By Vicki Smith
The Associated Press

MORGANTOWN — WVU Hospitals will build a $52 million outpatient center at the University Town Centre near Morgantown, a project that CEO Bruce McCly-monds said Friday will meet growing demand for clinic visits.

The three-story, 109,000-square-foot building will include 127 exam rooms. It will house as many as 10 clinics, including family and behavioral medicine, neurology, cardiology, internal medicine, pediatrics, and obstetrics and gynecology.

The project is also expected to create about 800 jobs, when combined with plans to expand the tower at Ruby Memorial Hospital.

By the time construction of the WVU Healthcare Outpatient Center is done in 2016, McClymonds said, a proposed new interchange off Interstate 79 should also be a reality.

With about 70 percent of outpatients coming from outside Monongalia County, the clinics need to be closer to the interstate. He said the new location will make access easier, allow for additional parking and “decongest” the current campus.

McClymonds says the Affordable Care Act overhauling the nation’s health care system will likely increase demand for clinic visits in coming years, and the Physician Office Center next to Ruby Memorial Hospital can’t support any substantial growth.

“This new facility will meet both of those needs and allow us to better serve our patients long into the future,” he said.

Last year, WVU Hospitals’ outpatient clinics in Morgantown received 433,579 visits.

By 2016, that number is projected to hit 536,909, with 25 percent at the new location.

McClymonds says no state money will be used in the project and “no extraordinary rate increase is anticipated,” but the construction will require a certificate of need from the West Virginia Health Care Authority.

Last year, the parent of competing Mon General Hospital challenged WVU Hospitals’ plan for a $248 million expansion at Ruby Memorial, but dropped it when the plan was downsized to add 114 beds instead of 139. That also shaved about $20 million off the price tag.

Mon General said at the time that the two hospitals had agreed to explore future cooperative ventures, including ways to provide more efficient patient care and support training for the health care professions. Neither side elaborated on the specifics.

A spokesman for Mon General didn’t immediately comment Friday on whether it’s likely to challenge this project.

More than 5,000 patients a year are transferred to WVU Hospitals from other facilities in the region, including hundreds from Mon General.