After a heart-wrenching separation during the holiday season last year, long-term care patients at Summers County Appalachian Regional Hospital might be reunited.

Delegates passed a bill Monday that paves the way for Main Street Hinton, a registered 501(c) entity, to take over the 20 beds on the third floor of the hospital.

“Unfortunately, we had to go this route to make it happen, but it’s going to work,” Delegate Virginia Mahan, D-Summers, said before the House passed HB3114.

All members of the 27th District endorsed the measure.

Wes Dangerfield, Community CEO of Summers County ARH Hospital, commented, “The legislation was passed in the House today and will now move on to the Senate. We hope that it will be successful.”

“It’s important that we keep these beds in Summers County, and in the Hinton area,” Mahan said.

“Those beds were occupied when ARH decided it wanted to get out of that business. Those folks have been displaced, at least temporarily, and they’re wanting to come home.”

The beds will remain on the third floor of Summers County ARH, a small critical care facility in the Hinton area.

“Long-term care situation is one we all kind of hope to avoid, but sooner or later, a lot of us are going to have to face it,” Mahan said.

“You want to be with the people you want to be with. You want to be in your own community and you want to be cared for by the folks that you know.”

Besides, the delegate pointed out, maintaining the beds affects 26 to 30 jobs, “so it’s a very big deal.”

“It’s kind of a strange situation,” she said.

“ARH wants to hand off this for free, giving them the beds. We have an entity in place ready to take care of them. They’re ready to manage them, they have a management team ready to go to work, and want to hire a nursing staff.”

Patients were sent to other facilities when ARH decided to get out of long-term care.

Mahan says the patients bonded with one another and found it difficult to be separated over the Christmas celebration.

“We heard some very heartbreaking stories right around the holidays, when they were being moved out,” she said.

“Some patients were saying to the others, ‘I don’t know when I’ll see you again,’ and crying out for one another. It was heartbreaking. We need to get these folks reunited.”

— E-mail: mannix@register-herald.com

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