June Leffler Published

Costs Burden W.Va.’s State-Owned Nursing Homes


The state of West Virginia is looking to privatize four long-term care facilities it owns and operates.

Department of Health and Human Resources Sec. Bill Crouch told lawmakers Monday that these nursing homes are costing the state too much money.

The facilities are Hopemont Hospital in Preston County, Jackie Withrow Hospital in Beckley, John Manchin Sr. Healthcare Center in Fairmont, and Lakin Hospital in Mason County.

The COVID-19 pandemic has left nurses in short supply, and health providers have to pay top dollar to attract them.

“If our cap is $90 an hour for a nurse, and the hospital down the road says ‘We’ll pay $110’ well folks just leave to get more money,” Crouch said.

The pay difference is one reason why state-owned nursing homes are only at half capacity, serving about 200 patients total. Staffing costs have more than doubled in the past three years, costing about $12.4 million a year.

These facilities also need to be renovated or even replaced. The latter could cost $16 million per facility.

“You can’t help but walk through them and you realize these are old, old, old buildings,” Crouch said.

Bringing in private providers to take care of these residents and eventually take over the facilities would be in the state’s best financial interest, Crouch said.

The homes currently provide for patients that need a lot of care and supervision. The state would need to get private providers on board to meet that need.

“The state became a provider of last resort,” Crouch said. “We’re the facilities that if somebody can’t get placed in the private sector… the state would take those folks.”

Appalachia Health News is a project of West Virginia Public Broadcasting with support from Charleston Area Medical Center and Marshall Health.