Pocahontas Memorial Hospital Expansion Financial Feasibility Study Discussed

At the December 17th Pocahontas County Commission meeting, Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Greg Gibbs of the Arnett Carbis Toothman CPA firm presented to the commissioners a hospital expansion financial feasibility study prepared by the firm on behalf of Pocahontas Memorial Hospital (PMH.)

Gibbs explained that PMH is exploring financing a seven and a half million-dollar construction expansion project which would allow them to increase services offered at at the hospital

He explained that the study shows that the option of expanding the hospital to add additional services in areas such as Physical and Occupational Therapy; Behavioral Health; Cardio pulmonary, Radiology – Nuclear Medicine; Radiology – Mammography; and an operating room for surgical procedures, will likely result in a continued growth in the hospital’s finances, while remaining stagnant with just the existing services will likely result in a worsening financial outlook for PMH over time which could ultimately force it to close.

To emphasize this, Gibbs said “the worst thing a small rural hospital can do is to do nothing.”

Although he acknowledged that construction costs and adding additional services will increase expenses for PMH, these should be more then offset by the additional revenues brought in by those additional services, would increase both in-patient days and outpatient visits, and create an additional twenty-five professional jobs over five years.

Gibbs said that financing the 7.5 million dollar construction through the USDA or other government agency would result in an approximate fifty-thousand dollar a month finance charge, but this is very doable for PMH, however would be even more workable if additional revenues through fund raising could reduce the amount needed to be borrowed by one or two million dollars. PMH’s Mary Beth Barr stated that they have a wealthy anonymous donor who has said he may be able to help in this regard.

Gibbs said that to move forward, they need the approval of the County Commission to seek the loan. Commissioner Helmick said that while he agrees this sounds like it could be a good move for PMH, he would want to see Gibbs’ company do an additional population demographics study that would support the optimistic predictions of this feasibility study before the commission approves any loan applications. Gibbs said this can be done quickly, and the commissioners all concurred with getting that study before proceeding with any approvals.

Also, at this meeting, the commissioners:

  • Heard from Alice Arbuckle who wants the commissioners to consider clarifying that the dog ordinance animal waste removal requirement, which sets a fine of $50 to $150 fine if a dog owner does not clean up their pet’s fecal waste from public or private land that they do not own, regardless of whether the dog is running loose or on a leash. She had been told by the Animal Control Deputy that the penalties only apply if the pet is running loose.
  • Approved the governor’s proclamation declaring Christmas Eve as a holiday, and therefore adopting it as a Pocahontas County employee holiday as well.
  • Received an update on Preserving Pocahontas from BJ Gudmundsson in which she handed out a pamphlet detailing the fifteen stops on the new Marlinton Historic Walking Tour which will officially begin in the spring, and that they are in the process digitizing the copies they have of the Marlinton journal newspaper which published up to the late 1970s.
  • Awarded a county government gasoline bid to Woodford Oil company at the Marathon Rack rate on the day of pick-up, plus $15 cents per gallon.
  • Received an update from Cynthia Gurreri of the Pocahontas Arts Council in which she said they brought a traditional art ink -Poke Berry ink- to county school students to create art; helped the Arts in the Park program; and conducted the 28th Annual Pioneer Days Art contest, and said they will be putting up three foot by three foot digitized art near the Marlinton depot. (she also provided photographs of their activities which can be seen on our website, alleghneymountainradio.org
  • Advised Benjamin Lukacek that he will be eligible to file for his 2021 Homestead Exemption anytime after January 1, 2020. He had been denied because the law requires two consecutive calendar years of residence to apply.
  • Approved Farmland Protection conservation easements for Shannon Hanley and for Kevin Underwood.
  • Set the dates for the 2020 Board of Review and Equalization hearings as: January 31, February 4th, 10th, 14th, and 18th.

Photos From The Pocahontas County Arts Council’s 2019 Annual Report

Story By

Tim Walker

Tim is the WVMR News Reporter. Tim is a native of Maryland who started coming to Pocahontas County in the 1970’s as a caver. He bought land on Droop Mountain off Jacox Road in 1976 and built a small house there in the early 80’s. While still working in Maryland, Tim spent much time at his place which is located on the Friars Hole Cave Preserve. Retiring in 2011 as a Lieutenant with the Anne Arundel County Police Department in Maryland, Tim finally took the plunge and moved from Maryland to his real home on Droop Mountain. He began working as the Pocahontas County Reporter for Allegheny Mountain Radio in January of 2015.

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