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Highland Hospital appoints new COO

04/29/2013 - The Exponent Telegram. By Jim Davis.

Highland-Clarksburg Hospital has a new chief operating officer on board and is advertising three other key positions that need filled.

Eric Kennedy started as chief operating officer April 10, Highland Hospital spokesman Jim Strawn said.

Kennedy is originally from the Clarksburg area, but has been working in Nevada the past few years, Strawn said.

The mental health provider also is advertising for a psychiatric medical director, nursing director and children’s services inpatient director, Strawn said. “Those are some key folks we’re going to try to hire sooner than later,” he said.

Two members of Highland-Clarksburg Hospital’s board of directors said Kennedy is the right person for the job.

“We’re very excited to have Mr. Kennedy as the chief operating officer,” Clarksburg City Manager Martin Howe said. “He will be an essential asset for the hospital and a member of the community.”

“He has the experience and leadership to help bring Highland Hospital from the construction phase into a phase where it will be able to serve those who need these services,” Clarksburg Councilwoman Margaret Bailey added.

Meanwhile, renovations are proceeding on schedule at Highland-Clarksburg Hospital’s future home in the old United Hospital Center.

Highland Hospital is converting the former UHC into a 150-bed mental-health facility.

The Charleston-based hospital plans to employ 294 at its Clarksburg facility.

Another 200 are working during the construction phase.

Work is proceeding at such a pace that the children’s and adolescents’ sections should be completed in mid-August as scheduled, said Mike Casdorph, the hospital’s director of facility development and construction. “Work is progressing on schedule, and no significant issues have been encountered,” Casdorph said.

Painting has started in both sections, and workers have begun laying floor tile in the children’s wing, said Dale Freeman, director of facilities.

Demolition also has started in the north and south wings where adult patients will be housed, Freeman said.

Strawn said that puts the project on schedule for a “soft” opening for the children’s services in the fall and opening of the entire facility next February. “They’re right on schedule, if not ahead of schedule,” Strawn said.

Howe said the progress to date is impressive.

“Everything is proceeding along in a timely manner, and the contractors as well as the project manager are handling any changes appropriately to keep the project on and ahead of schedule,” Howe said.

Bailey described the new facility taking shape at the old UHC as true economic development. “We have seen Highland go from an old UHC building to one that is changing day by day and becoming a facility that will be a very dynamic part of the behavioral health services within the state of West Virginia,” Bailey said. “What could have become an eyesore is now becoming a great asset,” she added.