Throughout 2012 and during the first part of 2013, hospitals across the region have expanded their facilities and services to meet the health care needs of central West Virginians, many of whom live in hard-to-reach rural areas.
In the Elkins area, construction continues on Davis Health System's 13 million Outpatient Care Center, which will serve as a home base to Davis Memorial Hospital's physician and outpatient care services, said Tracy Fath, director of marketing and development for DHS. The three-story, 73,000-square-foot structure - which will house up to 20 physicians, as well as exam rooms, minor procedure rooms, an endoscopy center and a registration area - is slated to open in the first quarter of 2014, Fath said.
Physician clinics in the Outpatient Care Center will range from family practice to pulmonology. A pharmacy and diagnostic imaging services also will be available at the center, including CT scans, X-rays, ultrasounds and mammography.
Construction continues on Davis Health System’s new Outpatient Care Center, which is set to open in the first quarter of 2014. (The Inter-Mountain file photo)
Two new physicians have been added to the ranks of Davis Health System's physicians over the past year - gastroenterologist Dr. Daniel Shats, who will join Dr. Nitesh Ratnakar at West Virginia Gastroenterology and Endoscopy, and Dr. Chalak Berzingi, a board-certified cardiologist who has joined the West Virginia University Heart Institute' Elkins' office. As a result of the partnership between Davis Memorial Hospital and the WVU Heart Institute, Berzingi is able to spend three days a week in Elkins, seeing patients throughout the Davis Health System service area.
Fath said DHS has focused on expanding specialty care services via technology over the past year.
"We've been in collaboration with CAMC (Charleston Area Medical Center) to get specialty programs set up, such as nephrology and perinatal," Fath said. "We use a technology called telestroke, or telemedicine, and what this does is it brings specialty physician care to our patients, even though the physicians may be located in another part of the state."
Fath said DHS uses high-security technology that utilizes encryption, which makes it possible for physicians to perform examinations, diagnose or prescribe treatments for patients, "even though the physicians may be sitting in Morgantown and the patient is sitting here in Elkins."
"It allows you to do an examination in real-time," Fath explained.
Another major accomplishment for DHS in 2012, was the opening of the $700,000 Davis House in September, which provides housing for out-of-town cancer patients and their families while they're receiving treatment at the Cancer Care Center.
"We have had people staying in the Davis House since it opened - either patients or family members," Fath said. "We knew this was a needed service, but this shows us how much it was needed, especially with the winter we've had. This is just really beneficial to people traveling from outside the area."
Davis Memorial Hospital has also added around-the-clock coverage for orthopedic emergencies in its emergency room. Fath noted the importance of this addition.
"People love to ski and bike and hike and whitewater raft in this region, and we certainly see our share of recreation-related injuries."
Fath said she was proud to highlight the fact that the hospital was successfully surveyed by the Joint Commission and received full accreditation.
"It's a voluntary survey where they dig really deep into your operations," Fath said. "It's really (measured) based on quality of care. We received full accreditation, and that's really significant because your hospital is measured against hospitals all across the nation."
Like DHS, Stonewall Jackson Memorial Hospital in Weston is working to better accommodate the medical needs of its patients. SJMH Marketing Director Julie Spelsberg said the hospital has just completed a renovation of the Weston Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Clinic, which has been expanded as part of the hospital's campus. Three surgeons work there, including Dr. Doyle Sickles, Dr. Joseph Snead and Dr. Shafic Sraj.
"Throughout the hospital, we are on a renovating campaign," Spelsberg said. "We started this whole project in 2011, and first the big thing was the renovation of the cafeteria which means an increased number of people eating down there.
"Right now, we are going room by room and each of the patient rooms is being renovated with the addition of a flat-screen TV, new shades, painting and making the bathrooms nicer," Spelsberg added.
In 2012, Avah Stalnaker was named SJMH's new chief executive officer. Stalnaker had served as the associate administrator since 1990 for the 70-bed hospital. Dr. Paula Galloway, a new general surgeon, also joined the medical team at this hospital in 2012. Plus, the hospital has jumpstarted a new campaign that centers on preventive care and wellness in Weston - it's called Lewis County on the Move.
"In the fall, we got a grant to encourage people to get up and moving," Spelsberg said. "We had about 300 participants, and that was really remarkable."
Spelsberg said participants underwent pre-screenings, which measured blood pressure, blood sugar, weight, height and waist circumference; following the completion of the six-week walking program they submitted to post-program screenings.
"We've had some really remarkable outcomes from that," Spelsberg remarked. "We had someone lose 20 pounds in six weeks, and one lady lost 8 inches off her waist. We're looking to try to continue that this spring."
St. Joseph's Hospital in Buckhannon has been on a yearlong campaign to keep the community healthier - this year, via the addition of six new physicians in 2012 and one in 2013.
Lisa Wharton, vice president of public relations and marketing, said St. Joseph's has hired health providers in the areas of urology, internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology and family medicine.
Sue Johnson-Phillippe, president and chief executive officer of St. Joseph's Hospital, said the hospital administration keeps close tabs on the community's needs.
"We closely monitor the needs of our community and work to ensure that they have the physicians they need close to home," Johnson-Phillippe recently commented. "At St. Joseph's Hospital, our goal is not only to provide excellence in the delivery of care, but compassionate health care to all of our patients."