Continuous care center to open in spring

Wheeling Hospital prepares to debut $34M facility

Wheeling Hospital Vice President John Pastorius explains features of the hospital’s new Continuous Care Center as he stands in the main lobby area that is under construction. — Scott McCloskey

WHEELING — A new, $34-million Continuous Care Center is set to open at Wheeling Hospital in early spring.

Hospital officials unveiled details of the facility Thursday during a press conference and brief tour of the construction site.

The three-story, 107,000-square-foot center is being built atop a hill overlooking Wheeling Hospital’s main campus. When completed, it will feature 144 beds — all in private rooms.

Monsignor Kevin Quirk, president and secretary of the hospital’s board of directors, said offering private rooms is important for infection control and privacy of individual patients. This concept gives the center “the ability to provide care in a setting that is less of a facility and more of a home,” he said. “The reality, for many, is this will be their home.”

The new center will replace the smaller Bishop Joseph H. Hodges Continuous Care Center located adjacent to the hospital. That two-story facility, which opened in 1983, has 120 beds with semi-private and private rooms.

Wheeling Hospital CEO Ron Violi said the hospital has plans for the Hodges building, but is not ready to reveal details.

Violi said, “The new center is larger than the current center by 67,000 square feet — or 2.5 times — and provides 24 more beds. Each room is designed for one patient, providing the privacy patients and their families desire. In addition, construction of the $34-million facility is being fully funded by the hospital.”

Center Administrator Christy Tarr said in addition to private rooms, the building will feature a state-of-the-art equipped main kitchen, five restaurant-style dining rooms, a physical therapy room, a spa with a jet tub and hair salon, a large chapel, two activity rooms, two outdoor courtyards, five patient-family lounge areas and a “healing garden.”

John Pastorius, Wheeling Hospital vice president, said the building occupies “a rather massive footprint” and offers “beautiful views” on a site encompassing 11 acres of the Medical Park campus. Parking for staff and visitors will be located on the hilltop site, he said.

Denise Kessler, the center’s director of nursing, said the building’s third floor will have 24 rooms dedicated to skilled nursing care, while the second floor will have 60 dual-certified rooms for long-term and skilled nursing care. The first floor will offer 60 rooms for long-term care.

Each wing will have its own “country kitchen” where meals will be plated and served in a dining room. Kessler said, “We’ll be encouraging residents to come out into that dining area.”

Pastorius said the building’s first and second floors each will contain two country kitchens and two dining rooms, while the third floor will have one country kitchen and one dining room.

The spa will provide “ways to make people feel better,” as an alternative to additional medication, Kessler said. The chapel will be big enough to accommodate 40 wheelchairs, she added.

Violi said a decision has not been made on whether patients will be transferred to the new center en masse or gradually, but added he would like to see the move accomplished in one day.

The Most Rev. Michael J. Bransfield, bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, spearheaded the effort to create a new center. Violi said after Bransfield toured the current center two years ago, the bishop said, “We cannot let this go on. This is not good enough.”

Violi said having a state-of-the-art center and individual rooms is “giving every patient back their dignity.” Sharing rooms and bathrooms “might have been good enough before. It’s just not good enough today. It is not acceptable today,” he said.

Quirk said serving Upper Ohio Valley residents “is part of our Gospel mission,” with caring for children and elders regarded as a mission of justice. “Caring for the health of those in our community is not really optional for us. It is an essential part of what we do as Catholic Christians,” he said.

The new center is designed by Stantec, the same architectural firm that designed the hospital’s seven-story Tower 5, which opened in 2012. Marks Landau is the building contractor for the new center.

Pastorius said site preparation began in the fall of 2016 and work on the foundation started in May.