By Debbie Hall
In Patrick County recently on campaign swings, State Sen. Bill Stanley said he is negotiating with a service provider to ensure 24-hour healthcare access in Patrick County.
Stanley, R-Franklin County, declined to identify the potential providers or provide any specific details.
An established healthcare delivery system is important, not only for providing services to residents, but also in terms of economic development, Stanley said.
“When a company is (considering) coming in, the first two things they look at are healthcare and schools. … Your schools are amazing,” Stanley said. But, without healthcare, potential companies “are going somewhere else.”
Stanley said the hospital property currently is worth about $2 million due to the state of disrepair and deferred maintenance.
He estimated it will cost $36,000 to start the boiler and clean it. Mold remediation also will add to the cost of repairs.
Virginia Community Capital (VCC), which owns the hospital, has it listed for sale at $5 million.
However, Stanley said a claw-back provision related to tax incentives will expire in 2020. “That’s when you’ll see a precipitous drop in price,” he added.
Residents donated to the building fund to help construct the hospital that closed in September, 2017. It “was the promise of the community,” Stanley said.
In the past, Stanley said that he and members of the Patrick County Economic Development Authority, including Bill Clark, its vice chairman and then director Debbie Foley, worked in tandem with state officials and potential operators to reopen the hospital.
Anyone who says the EDA and Foley did not contact or meet with state officials while working to reopen the hospital is not telling the truth, Stanley said, adding that he knows because he also attended many of those meetings.
The united effort was meeting with success, he said. “We had two operators … We had it right about to a point where” reopening the hospital was becoming more of a reality.
Lock Boyce, of the Mayo River District, was chairman of the Board of Supervisors at the time. Boyce has said that he and County Administrator Tom Rose were invited to participate in a conference call with Secretary of Health and Human Services Daniel Carey, M.D. and Deputy Secretary Marvin Figueroa.
Later, Stanley said he received a call from Gov. Ralph Northam, asking Stanley about a local official who had called state officials about the Patrick County Hospital.
“After that, it all shut down,” Stanley said.
Foley eventually resigned from her post, citing a lack of support from the Board of Supervisors related to hospital negotiations. At the time, EDA board member Glenn Roycroft said Foley’s resignation was “on the heels of a situation promulgated by one member of the Board of Supervisors and the County Administrator.”
After determining it did not want to thwart ongoing negotiations by other county officials, the EDA also suspended its efforts, pending updates on the progress of those efforts.
Stanley said that while not successful, his and the EDA’s past attempts were not “a defeat, it’s just a delay until we get it back open, and we will get it back open.
“We fought hard, but I don’t believe the fight’s over. … I promise, I will not rest until we have solved this healthcare problem in Patrick County,” he said, adding that he takes the fortitude and ‘can do’ spirit of Patrick residents with him to Richmond.
The EDA later resumed work on the healthcare issue, and over the summer, approved a resolution to conduct a study and determine the best path forward. The agency now is working on the issue with Nancy Bell, Population Manager of the West Piedmont Health District.
After endorsing Clayton Kendrick, who is challenging Boyce in the Nov. 5 election, Stanley, who is seeking reelection to the 20th Senatorial District, noted that his challenger is Sherman Witcher.
Witcher is running as an Independent candidate after failing to secure backing from the Democratic Party. In 2009, he was an Independent Green Party candidate for 9th District in the Virginia House of Delegates District 9.
By the end of August and the most recent figures available, Witcher had collected $1,151 in contributions, according to VPAP. Contributions to Stanley’s campaign were $420,759 in the same time frame, according to online information.
“I don’t take any campaign lightly,” Stanley said, adding there are some who are “trying to ruin our culture, our history and our freedom. We’re seeing a perversion of society that is not the social norm, but if we don’t go along with it, we’re the bad” guys.
With redistricting on the horizon, and noting that his district is one of the largest in Virginia, Stanley said reelecting him and other party members is key in that process.
“If we lose the majority, we will lose way more than one seat. We’ll lose something we won’t get back again,” Stanley said. “I have turned the other cheek as a Christian, but it’s time to make a fist. … Vigilance is the eternal price of liberty.”
State Sen. Bill Stanley, R-Franklin County, vowed to continue efforts to provide 24-hour healthcare to Patrick County.
In Patrick Springs during a recent campaign swing, State Sen. Bill Stanley said he is negotiating with healthcare providers on Patrick County’s behalf. Stanley, R-Franklin County, declined to identify potential providers.
(Left to right) State Sen. Bill Stanley and Bryce Simmons, director of the Patrick County Economic Development Authority (EDA) talked following Stanley’s recent appearance at a Patrick County GOP Committee-sponsored event in Patrick Springs.