West Virginia University Hospitals is seeking state approval to add nearly 180,000 square feet of patient-care and support space to Ruby Memorial Hospital.

“The demand for the specialized care that is provided at WVUH exceeds our ability to provide it in the current space,”said hospital President Bruce McClymonds.”We are turning away people who need health care, and want to get it in West Virginia.”

WVUH will file a certificate of need application for the $74.5 million expansion on July 18. The West Virginia Health Care Authority must approve the project before construction can begin.

WVUH proposes to build a seven-story tower at the northeast corner of the hospital, and to expand several of the narrower upper floors of the current structure to the full size of the lower floors. In addition, WVUH plans to build a parking garage and a small office building.

McClymonds, who said the project has been in the planning stages for more than a year, said a combination of factors led to the decision to build:

  • The average number of patients in the hospital on any given day is about 65 more than three years ago.
  • The hospital is usually about 85 percent fullfar too high to meet demands in case of a disaster.
  • Many of the sickest patients treated at WVUH are transferred from other West Virginia hospitals. But WVUH has had to turn away transfers because of space limitations dozens of times in the past year.
  • More and more residents of West Virginia’s Eastern and Northern Panhandles are coming to Morgantown for specialty care.
  • The area’s population is agingand older people generally have more need for hospital services.

The hospital will add 81 beds and six operating rooms if the proposal is approved. The plans calls for 14 additional intensive care beds, 37 regular beds and a 30-bed long-term acute-care unit.

The review process takes several months, and McClymonds said he hopes to be ready to break ground for the project in the spring or summer of 2003.