WVU Hospitals Opens New Units

Two Intensive Care Units and Six Operating Rooms Ready

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin cut the ribbon on a $75 million expansion at West Virginia University Hospitals Wednesday, celebrating the hospital’s largest expansion project ever.

WVUH is caring for more patients each year, and on most days the main hospital – Ruby Memorial Hospital – is near or at full capacity. On many days, several patients are placed on waiting lists. The new units will alleviate that problem.

 “Our goal is that every West Virginian who needs health care has the opportunity to get that care in our state,” said WVUH President Bruce McClymonds.  “One by one, we are filling the gaps that forced patients out of the state for care.”

In recent months, some units in the hospital have been at 100 percent capacity for long stretches.

 “This is, by far, the biggest thing we’ve done since the hospital opened,” said McClymonds. Over the next year, up to 72 additional beds will be staffed as the expanded space is put to use.

“We have learned from two decades of experience in Ruby Memorial Hospital what works better for patients – how much space is needed for effective intensive care – how to organize things better,” said Dr. Robert D’Alessandri, WVU vice president for health sciences.

The expansion project included the construction of an eight-story tower at the northeast corner of the hospital, behind the Rosenbaum Family House, and the expansion of several of the upper floors of the original 1988 structure.

The units opening in November and December include the expanded inpatient surgery area on the fifth floor, the surgical intensive care unit (SICU), the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) and skilled nursing unit. 

Six new operating rooms were built – four additional rooms plus two which replace a pair that were removed in the remodeling process. The new rooms are more spacious than ones built nearly 20 years ago to accommodate the sophisticated equipment now commonplace in surgery, particularly for advanced minimally-invasive procedures.

WVU surgeons performed 21,429 procedures last year, an increase of 17.7 percent from 2003. 

Surgical patients often require intensive care for one to several days, and the new surgical intensive care unit is immediately adjacent to the operating rooms.

WVU’s PICU is the only one in the region, and is often at capacity. The new unit is much larger than the one in the original hospital and has more space for parents who need to stay close to their child.

Some of the units, like the skilled nursing unit, were relocated from elsewhere in the hospital. The spaces being vacated will be remodeled in 2006 to complete the 180,000 square foot reconstruction plan.

WVUH now has a total of 522 licensed beds – 452 in Ruby Memorial Hospital and 70 in the adjacent Chestnut Ridge Hospital which serves behavioral medicine patients.

WVUH is a part of the West Virginia United Health System.

- WVU -

For more information:
Bill Case, HSC News Service, (304) 293-7087

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