Hospital proposal wins Senate vote

Legislators in the Virginia Senate unanimously approved the proposal to extend the local hospital’s Acute Care License.

State Sen. Bill Stanley, R-Moneta, said he re-filed the proposal after passage of a similar version stalled last week.

Local and state officials traveled to Richmond Tuesday to again make the case for the bill. They issued a weekend call to Patrick residents, public safety and fire and rescue representatives, asking for as many as possible to be on hand when Tuesday’s vote is taken.

Assistant County Administrator Geri Hazelwood on Monday said those planning to attend included county and economic development officials, public safety and other officials.

Economic Development Director Debbie Foley said Tuesday 23 people from Patrick County were on hand for the vote.

The House of Delegates on Monday unanimously approved their version of the bill, HB 175. It received 99 votes, according to Will Pace, Charles Poindexter’s legislative aide.

Poindexter, R-Glade Hill, filed the proposal.

“To find a buyer and operator to reopen Pioneer is virtually impossible without this action, as these two tasks require enormous funds and are lengthy to obtain,” Poindexter said.

Stanley said last week’s vote in the Senate was politically motivated.

“This is not a political issue, but a human issue” Stanley said Thursday, after the re-filed measure cleared the first hurdle by passing the Education and Health Committee with a majority vote, which also approved the initial proposal.

Even with defeat of the initial bill, Stanley said the situation “has had a positive effect” by helping to shine the light on Patrick County and demonstrate the area’s needs.

Stanley said he has had conversations with entities who may be interested in operating the hospital.

“I have had people reach out to me” after learning about the dire situation here, he said.

“Right now, we’re just in the initial talks and negotiations are ongoing,” he said, but overall, “the support from the people in Richmond” has been overwhelming.

Stanley declined to discuss specifics of those conversations, but was hopeful the new bill would pass.

Since both bodies must consider proposals approved by the other body, SB 866 will head to the House of Delegates for consideration, and HB 175 will be considered by the Senate.

Because the proposals include an emergency clause, Pace said he anticipates they will be sent to the respective body for consideration well before the Feb. 13 crossover date.

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