Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Princeton Times

August 8, 2008

PCH gets go-ahead to turn St. Luke’s into psychiatric care pavilion

PRINCETON — St. Luke’s Hospital should open its doors for patients again within the next year.

In the wake of an agonizing decision to close the acute care hospital, the task of filing a certificate of need application and months of waiting on word, Princeton Community Hospital CEO Wayne Griffith confirmed Thursday that PCH received the West Virginia Health Care Authority’s seal of approval to re-open St. Luke’s as a psychiatric care pavilion.

HCA Chairwoman Sonia Chambers handed him the CON last week at the end of a meeting in Charleston, and Griffith said he could barely contain the excitement.

“Obviously, I was very thrilled. I think the Health Care Authority had a very difficult task in reviewing the application, but ultimately realized the opportunity we have here,” he said. “Now, we start the hard work. We have to make the facility operational, put the health care professionals in place and open the doors.”

PCH initially requested licensure for 103 inpatient beds on the Bluefield campus, but the CON documentation reduced that allowance slightly. The facility will be allowed a total of 95 inpatient beds, with 20 of those allocated for adolescent behavioral health patients. HCA approved a capital expenditure of approximately $5.57 million.

That’s an amount Griffith said he expected to spend gradually and using as much in-house expertise and labor as possible.

“That dollar amount is tied to renovations over a period of time,” he explained.

Renovations include the creation of additional inpatient areas, structures to completely separate the adult and adolescent care quarters and outpatient service areas, as well as general housekeeping items. One of the biggest tasks will be installing plaster ceilings to replace the tiles currently over St. Luke’s.

“Basically, it’s what’s known in the industry as psych-proofing the facility,” Griffith said. “You have to make sure it’s a safe environment for everyone involved.”

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