West Virginia University Healthcare officials plan to ask the state Health Care Authority for permission to undertake a $248 million expansion project, after WVU Hospitals board members approved the project earlier this month.

 As part of the expansion, a 10-story tower would be built next to Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, to increase inpatient care there.

 The project, which WVU officials estimate would take three to five years to complete, cannot begin until the state Health Care Authority approves a certificate of need for WVU Healthcare. That process takes at least five months.

 "A certificate of need is absolutely necessary -- we can't build anything without approval of our CON," Amy Johns, director of public affairs for WVU Healthcare, wrote in an email Thursday.

 The expansion will address overcrowding that has required the hospital to delay patient transfers from other regional facilities in recent months, according to Inside WVU Healthcare, a WVU publication.

 The site plan requires removal of the existing Child Development Center and Rosenbaum Family House facilities to make room for the new hospital tower. Both services will be moved to new, larger buildings on campus.

 More than 600 permanent jobs will be created, including 70 new physicians who are expected to join the WVU School of Medicine faculty in the next five years. The 10-story tower will also add 114 new patient beds. When the project is completed, WVU Healthcare will have more than 600 inpatient beds.

 As well as the 10-story tower, the $248 million proposal the WVU Hospitals board approved on Dec. 2 includes:


  • Expansion of the neonatal intensive care unit in WVU Children's Hospital.
  • Substantially more adult medical/surgical and intensive care space.
  • An expanded emergency department.
  • Expanded food service and conference spaces, additional elevators, parking and campus roadways.

 More specific information will be available in the next couple of weeks, Johns said.