How is the closure of West Virginia state hospitals going to affect West Virginians, apart from the loss of available nursing homes and the medical treatment those facilities provide?

If  the seven state hospitals in West Virginia close, it will have detrimental consequences to residents in those communities, surrounding counties and West Virginians as a whole.

UE Local 170 is holding rallies, organizing drives, contacting legislators and the governor to fight back against the closure of state hospitals.

If state hospitals are closed, the impact it will have on the communities in which these hospitals are located will immediately result in increased unemployment. West Virginia’s state-operated facilities employ between one hundred and five hundred and fifty local employees. If state hospital workers lose their jobs, many will be forced to move to find new jobs, and this will likely create a lower tax base for the state should those workers and their families relocate outside of West Virginia. It will have a ripple effect, for example, on the number of teachers that can be hired in schools, the amount of money schools and other state institutions will have available throughout the year, on resources needed to properly educate children, and possibly result in further community layoffs.

The property values could likely decrease due to the number of vacant properties in our neighborhoods and impact the community quality of life beyond our schools, libraries and local businesses.

The negative social and economic impacts will be felt greatest in rural and smaller communities.  What new jobs in the area that can be found might well be for lower wages, and well might include loss of medical and retirement benefits. Newly unemployed and under-employed former state workers may find themselves in need of public assistance to make ends meet.

The physical, psychological, and financial burden these closings will have on the family unit will be considerable.  Longtime state workers will be worried about money and unsure of how their bills will get paid, whether they have enough food to feed their families, and whether they will be able to keep the lights on.  Job insecurity results in higher risk for illness and disease, weight gain, high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease.

These are just a few examples of how the sale of the state hospitals will negatively affect West Virginia.

Please help us stand up and fight back for our communities by saying no to the sale of state hospitals

Leslie Riddle,

Vice President, UE Local 170