POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. — Mason County Commissioners met on Tuesday for a regular meeting where they discussed the proposed legislation that could close Lakin Hospital and three other state-run nursing facilities.
As previously reported by the Register, House Bill 2626 originated in the House Health and Human Resources Committee and has been sent to the House Finance Committee. If passed out of finance and sent to the floor for a vote, any bill would still have to be considered by the Senate. If passed, the facilities would close by Jan. 1, 2022.
During the commission meeting, Lakin Hospital Administrator Danelle Wandling and employees Amber Workman and Annette Hill were present to speak about the bill.
Wandling said the bill states the facilities are old and unsafe, however, the building housing residents was built in the 1970s and passes all yearly inspections done by the state.
The employees said there are currently 54 residents and the facility has not been able to take admissions for nearly a year due to the pandemic. Of those residents, 42 would be “hard to place,” according to Wandling and employees present at the meeting. These residents would reportedly have difficulty finding new facilities due to legal issues and their diagnosis.
Wandling said there are currently around 115 state staff who work at the facility.
One employee said “It’s not about me trying to save my job, it’s about saving their home.”
Commissioner Tracy Doolittle said she feels the state needs more facilities like Lakin instead of getting rid of them.
State representatives with the legislature are set to visit Lakin Hospital on Thursday to tour the facility.
The commissioners motioned to send letters to local legislative officials, as well as those on the House Health Committee who drafted the bill.
As of press time on Wednesday, the bill remained with the House Finance Committee.
In other business during the meeting, commissioners approved the hiring of Danny Kay as a home confinement officer for the sheriff’s department.
Commissioners approved the budget revision presented by County Administrator John Gerlach regarding jail fees.
Commissioners approved a motion to open community buildings and events at the fairgrounds, which were previously halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Commission President Sam Nibert showed his appreciation for the office of emergency services, fire departments, sheriff’s department and all employees and volunteers who worked to restore power and access to roads after the ice storm last week.
The next Mason County Commission meeting is set for March 11 at 4 p.m.
During the meeting, Commissioners Nibert, Doolittle and Rick Handley were present, along with Gerlach and County Clerk Diana Cromley.
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Kayla (Hawthorne) Dunham is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Reach her at (304) 675-1333, ext. 1992.