FAIRMONT, W.Va. — Delegate Joey Garcia, D, Marion, 76, and candidate for the State Senate in the November election has concerns about what direction leaders might take with state-run nursing facilities.

On WAJR’s “Talk of the Town,” Garcia talked about his recent visit to the John Manchin Snr. Health Care Center in Fairmont with members of the Legislative Oversight Commission on Health and Human Resources Accountability Committee (LOCHRA). He said the facility originally built around 1900 was remodeled in the 1980’s and is currently in good condition for the residents and staff.

“I think the staff of the legislature is looking to see what they need in their facilities,” Garcia said. “Do they need a new roof? Do they need new things in their facilities? How are people being employed, and are their wages high enough? All these types of things go into how these facilities are functioning.”

The John Manchin Snr. Health Care Center is one of six other state-run facilities across the state that Garcia said provide great care and families a nice place to visit loved ones. According to Garcia, the residents and families are satisfied with the level of care and the staff and leadership take pride in their roles as caretakers for our older residents.

” One of the reasons I wanted to make sure I was there even though I’m not a member of the Legislative Oversight Commission on Health and Human Resources Accountability Committee (LOCHRA) is to advocate to make sure this state-run facility continues to operate as it is to help some of the most vulnerable residents of West Virginia,” Garcia said.

He said every year since 2001, with the exception of 2024 the Department of Health and Human Resources has introduced a bill to privatize the facilities. Many residents in state-run facilities are considered high-risk and in many cases require a level of care not offered by a private provider.

“As a the state of West Virginia we should have a value that we are taking care of the most vulnerable and not letting them slip through the cracks,” Garcia said. “I don’t know that a private institution would do what we do as a state to make sure these people are cared for.”

He said some of the problems discovered during the LOCHRA visits could be the consequences of years of flat budgets. Instead of going private he said a new facility may need to be built and investments should be made in the existing properties.

“If you haven’t funded something appropriately and you do it right, money can fix it,” Garcia said. “That’s where I was very impressed at the state of the facility, the workers there, and the type of care those residents are getting.”

Transferring the responsibility of care to a for-profit company from the state system could come with cost savings at the expense of the residents and families, Garcia believes.

“That’s so important for the dignity of people,” Garcia said. “That’s something we have to think about. We can’t just push this down to a dollars and cents decision, and that’s what a lot of state decisions come down to.”

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