POMEROY — Inmates with the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections could perform the asbestos abatement work planned at Veterans Memorial Hospital as plans for its demolition continue.
Meigs County Commissioners have contacted the department and inspectors have visited the hospital to assess it for asbestos. Removal of asbestos is the next step in the process of demolishing the county-owned building and redeveloping the acreage on which it sits.
At Thursday’s meeting, commissioners discussed their plans to use the services of the state prison system to complete the work, which must be done before the building can be torn down. Workers with the state prison system have performed similar work on other buildings as they were converted to other use, including the Mulberry Community Center.
Commissioners plan to tear down the hospital building because they have deemed it to be in irreparable condition. The building has suffered water damage from a leaky roof, and it has begun to show signs of structural failure. It has sat empty for 10 years, since Consolidated Health Systems, Inc. closed the hospital and its associated extended care unit.
The building was constructed in the early and late 1960’s, so asbestos must be removed before it can be torn down. Using the state’s training program will save the county money, and provide training for inmates at the same time, according to President Michael Bartrum. There is no specific time line for the work, or for tearing down the hospital, but commissioners said yesterday the plans are still under way.
Last month, commissioners conducted a sale of hospital contents, as well as building materials that could be salvaged from it. There are no specific plans for redeveloping the hospital site, but commissioners hope it can be used for a public purpose once the building is razed. Commissioners said earlier this year there has been interest from one health care provider in building on the site, and commissioners have also identified possible uses of the land for county governmental purposes.
While the site has been ruled out for a hospital in the future, commissioners continue to work toward increasing health care services in the county. They hope to use land on Pomeroy Pike, where Family Healthcare, Inc., is now building an outpatient family clinic, to develop an emergency room and possible inpatient facility.