Sale of Highland Hospital to Tennessee company completed

Representatives of Highland Hospital say the sale of the Charleston-based company has been completed to a Tennessee company. (WCHS/WVAH)

Highland Hospital in Charleston is ready for a new chapter and is under new ownership, a Tennessee behavioral health company.

This new ownership is bringing on a lot of positives.

It will allow the hospital to continue to provide mental health care services and substance abuse treatment. All of the programs, staff and leadership will remain the same.

And there are only plans to grow and do even more to help those struggling with addiction.

Five years ago, Highland Hospital built a new hospital in Kanawha City and went into debt.

"In order to finance that hospital, we sold bonds and they were at a very high interest rate and that debt really became a struggle for us,” Highland Hospital CEO Cynthis Persily said.

But, they still wanted to do more for patients.

"We needed to have a partner that had a broader expertise so that we could continue to expand,” Persily said.

Meridian Behavioral Health Systems from Tennessee stepped in to help.

They paid off the debt and purchased three locations from HHA Incorporated Highland hospital, which provides behavioral health services. Highland Health Center, a substance abuse treatment and detox program and Process Strategies, an outpatient provider.

All programs and employees will remain.

"There are no changes, getting rid of staff or getting rid of programs.. Everything's staying the same, it's all about growth and support for them,” Meridian Health Systems CEO Wes Mason said.

Meridian said they have big plans.

”There's room to build on the fourth floor and we're going to support that financially. We're going to look at residential substance abuse beds for adults, will be one of the primary focuses,” Mason said.

The need for resources continues to grow as the state deals with the opioid epidemic. This hospital is one place that could help someone find recovery.

"Now more than ever people need behavioral health care with opioid epidemic and what we know about the opioid epidemic is that many of those people are treating other mental health issues so they have co-occurring problems, they have a health issue and substance abuse issue and we know we can provide the help that they need,” Persily said.

Highland Hospital employs around 400 people, when they expand that number will only grow.

"When we expand we're going to have to add more jobs to healthcare spectrum so nurses, therapy services, social work, direct care staff, housekeeping, dietary so that’s going to be very important as well so that's where it really has an opportunity to be a win win for the community because you're addressing a need and providing more jobs,” Mason said.

They are already starting to make plans for the addition on the fourth floor of the hospital but do not have a deadline yet.

A Tennessee company has completed its purchase of Charleston-based Highland Hospital.

Meridian Behavioral Health Systems of Brentwood, Tenn., has finalized the change in ownership, representatives of Highland said in a news advisory.

“We are pleased to add Highland Hospital to our network of facilities,” said Wes Mason, president and chief executive officer of Meridian, in a news release. “Highland has an excellent record of service to the people of West Virginia, and Meridian looks forward to helping Highland do even more for its community.”

Programs, staff and local leadership at Highland will remain in place, according to a news release. Meridian has assumed all liabilities for Highland’s pension fund, all of Highland’s real estate and all of Highland’s leases.

In August, Highland announced the sale had been OK’d by HHA Inc., the parent company of the Highland Hospital Association and other Highland companies in Charleston.

Highland includes the Highland Hospital Association, a psychiatric hospital with 80 acute-care beds for adults, children and adolescents and a 24-bed psychiatric residential treatment facility for children and adolescents; Highland Health Center Inc.; a 16-bed residential treatment and detoxification program; and Process Strategies, an outpatient provider with integrated behavioral health care and pharmacy services.

This is the second time in the past year that news of a possible sale of Highland was announced. In November 2016, plans to sell Highland to another Tennessee company, Acadia Healthcare, was nixed.

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