Ohio County Commission Gives Health Right $180,000 for Expansion

Photo by Joselyn King New County Administrator Randy Russell, and County Emergency Management Agency Director Lou Vargo discuss matters during Tuesday night’s commission meeting.

WHEELING — Ohio County commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday night to give Wheeling Health Right the $180,000 it needs to complete a $300,000 expansion project.

Kathie Brown, executive director of Wheeling Health Right, had appeared before the commission last month to present them her ideas for meeting an increased demand for Health Right’s services.

Her thoughts included enlarging the designated space for dental operations within the building, and constructing a drive-up pharmacy window where clients could pick up medications.

She told commissioners she already had raised $120,000 toward the $300,000 project, and was looking for an additional $180,000.

Commission President Randy Wharton said he took into consideration the increase in activity at Wheeling Health Right in recent years — especially since the closing of Ohio Valley Medical Center in October 2019, and the COVID pandemic of 2020.

“She made a very compelling case that warrants our contribution to her facility at this time. They serve a lot of people of Ohio County,” Wharton said.

He asked Brown to send her request to the commission in writing, and commissioners acted to approve it Tuesday.

“I told her (Brown) I wanted to do this while we could do it,” Wharton said. “We may be in the position to do it today, but maybe we won’t be tomorrow.”

Commissioner Zach Abraham said Wheeling Health Right does “so much good for so many of our citizens in the community.” He said their adding the additional space was “appropriate.”

Commissioner Don Nickerson agreed assisting Health Right at this time was necessary.

“I know first-hand the good work that they do,” he said.

Brown was nearly speechless Tuesday night after being informed of the commissioners’ actions.

“That takes care of our project,” she said. “The commission in Marshall County gave us money today as well, with that we are set to go.

“I am very excited. I am so thankful to the commission, and I am thrilled. I am grateful they could do it now. It means everything.”

The expansion is necessary she explained as Health Right is seeing a higher number of patients at its clinic, especially for dental extractions.

The current conference room at Health Right will be turned into a second dental operatory area. An additional storage room also will be added there for storing personal protective equipment, as Brown predicts the need for PPE items won’t dissipate in the future.

Health Right also is going to add on space for a new conference room, and a drive up pharmacy window.

The project is presently in its blueprint stages, and Brown hopes the work can be completed by the end of this year.

In other matters before the commission Tuesday, long-time county employee Randy Russell was officially appointed the new county administrator. The commissioners announced last week they had offered him the position, and he accepted.

Wharton said the Public Service District is working on a project to repair and replace non-working fire hydrants in the county, and is presently obtaining information pertaining to cost.

Sheriff Tom Howard thanked all first responders and volunteers who assisted in the search for an 85-year-old man gone missing in the Bethlehem area on Monday. The man was found safe on Tuesday 23 hours after his disappearance, according to Howard.

He asked commissioners if they would sign off on letters of thanks he will be sending to responding departments, volunteers and businesses bringing food to searchers.

The commission will next meet at 6 p.m. on April 20 at the City-County Building, 1500 Chapline St., Wheeling.


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