Child Center Ground Broken

WHEELING – Officials broke ground Wednesday for a new medical facility they described as a great asset to the children of the Ohio Valley and the city of Wheeling.

State, community and health care leaders joined hospital staff for a groundbreaking ceremony for the Robert C. Byrd Child & Adolescent Behavioral Health Center on the campus of Ohio Valley Medical Center on Wednesday.

The new 30-bed inpatient behavioral health center will provide local children who need behavioral and mental health services an opportunity to stay close to home instead of seeking psychiatric care in neighboring states.

“There is a great need for this type of program, and we are extremely proud to have this opportunity to enhance the current child and adolescent behavioral health services of OVMC and to provide our community with a long overdue specialized inpatient facility,” said Matthew Thomas, chairman of the Ohio Valley Health Services and Education Corp. Board of Trustees.

The new facility will offer 12 more beds than the hospital currently has for children who are psychiatric patients. OVMC’s behavioral health center, HillCrest, opened in 1973 and was built to accommodate adults only. The new facility will have separate wings for both boys and girls.

While in office, the late Sen. Robert Byrd secured $5.7 million for the project aimed at providing care for children who often must leave the area for treatment. The remainder of the $6 million project will be covered by OVMC’s operating fund, officials have said in the past.

Wheeling Mayor Andy McKenzie said the facility is not only a great opportunity for new construction jobs, but also for full-time positions. He also thanked OVMC for utilizing local workers during the building’s construction.

Colaianni Construction of Dillonvale was contracted to perform the work while the engineering and architecture firm of Matyskiela & Grant Inc. of Wheeling designed the building.

“We are thrilled to move forward with this project as our local management team joins with local contractors and local craftsmen to make the construction of this facility a reality,” said George Couch, president and chief executive officer of Ohio Valley Health Services and Education Corp.

The fact that 30-40 new full-time jobs are expected to be created by the facility’s construction is great news for an area that has been described as economically depressed, Thomas added.

Construction is expected to last about one year.