ROCKSPRINGS — “Victory for Meigs County, victory for the State of Ohio, and victory for Appalachia.”
That was one of the statements made by Congressman Bill Johnson on Friday morning in reference to the new Meigs Emergency Room Facility.
Congressman Johnson joined many local and state officials at the official groundbreaking ceremony for the facility at 41861 Pomeroy Pike near Pomeroy. Dozens of local residents and current Holzer employees were also in attendance for the ceremony.
The facility will be operated by Holzer Health System and is being constructed through a collaborative effort with the Meigs County Community Improvement Corporation (CIC).
Paul Reed, President of the CIC, welcomed all of those in attendance and recognized many of the those in attendance who have played a role in making the long awaited facility a reality.
A constant theme among the speakers was of the time that has been put into making the facility happen and the need for such a facility in Meigs County.
Joy Padgett, assistant director for the Governor’s Office of Appalachia seemed to sum it up best, saying it was an “example of patience and perseverance.”
Speakers at the ceremony included Representative Debbie Phillips, Commissioner Randy Smith, Director of the Ohio Development Services Agency David Goodman, Chairman of the Board of Holzer Health Systems Brent Saunders, and Holzer Health Systems Chief Executive Officer T. Wayne Munro, MD.
Johnson referred to the work to bring an emergency facility to Meigs County as a “real example of national, state and local government and private sector innovation working together to make something happen.
Reed also noted the involvement of Mick Davenport, former Meigs County Commissioner, stating that Davenport dedicated his service to improving the health care available in Meigs County.
The work of Perry Varnadoe, Meigs County Economic Development Director, was also noted by Reed. He stated that without the work of Varnadoe these thing would not be happening today.
Phillips stated the facility had been a long time in the making, adding that for those carrying the torch on the project, it had been like a relay race passed down from one to another. She noted Davenport and the late Charlie Wilson as some of those who had previously worked on the project to Perry Varnadoe and Paul Reed as those currently working toward the goal.
Reed also read a letter sent by State Senator Lou Gentile congratulating those involved on the groundbreaking of the project.
Commissioner Smith reflected back to 16 years ago when he graduated high school from Meigs, located just beyond where the new facility will sit.
Smith noted that the road used to stop in the area of the school and that none of the medical facilities were present, with the area an empty lot from which all of this is emerging.
“The facility will be a monumentally piece of the health care campus,” said Smith.
The campus also includes Hopewell Health Center (formerly Family Healthcare) and the future Meigs County Emergency Operations Center. The emergency room and the operations center will be side by side with a helipad located between them. Hopewell Health Center is on the opposite side of the road.
As Reed introduced Munro and Saunders to give there remarks, Reed noted that this was the first major project of the combined Holzer Health System, and would provide emergency care to one of two counties in the state which does not currently have an emergency facility.
Saunders stated that Holzer is pleased to expand services to the area.
Munro noted the current facility for primary care and urgent care services as signs of Holzer Health System’s current involvement in the county, while adding that they look forward to becoming more involved in the future.
Goodman presented both Holzer Health System and the CIC with a proclamation from the Governor’s office for their efforts on the project.
Director of Chaplaincy Services Fred Williams, Ph.D., gave the invocation before the National Anthem and Pledge of Allegiance lead by Hal Kneen to open the ceremony.
Following the speakers, the official ground breaking was held.
The facility will be operated by Holzer Health System and is being established in a collaborative effort with the Meigs County Community Improvement Corporation (CIC).
The facility is expected to open in the fall of 2014 and create around 30 new full-time positions.
The facility will feature a 24-hour staffed emergency department, equipped with state-of-the-art equipment and a helipad.
The building, which has been designed by Don Dispenza of Panich and Noel, will include eight treatment rooms, one double trauma room, two triage rooms, lab, pharmacy, general radiation and CT suite, along with areas for public and staff.
Kinsale Corporation of Chester, Ohio, will be the contractor for the project.
The $6 million project is financed by Ohio Valley Bank, with the commissioners having previously approved a bond resolution for the project.
The facility project was also assisted by Buckeye Hills-Hocking Valley Regional Development District, the Governor’s Office of Appalachia, Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman, Congressman Bill Johnson, Ohio Senator Lou Gentile, and Ohio Representative Debbie Phillips.