Pikeville Medical Center celebrates groundbreaking of first children’s hospital in Eastern Kentucky

Openings reduce travel demands on families, create new jobs

PIKEVILLE, Ky. — Gov. Andy Beshear and U.S. Rep. Harold “Hal” Rogers on Friday celebrated the groundbreaking of the Pikeville Medical Center (PMC) Children’s Hospital in Pike County thanks in part to a $4.78 million Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) Pilot Program grant.

They also joined local leaders for a ribbon-cutting ceremony for PMC’s Appalachian Valley Autism Center.

The new children’s hospital in Pikeville, when finished, will treat patients from birth to 18 years, providing regional health care services for over 100,000 children in a 50-mile radius encompassing 23 counties in Eastern Kentucky, Southwestern Virginia and Southern West Virginia. It is expected to add 50 full-time staffers when completed, with up to 200 additional positions expected within the following four years.

Thanks to a partnership with the University of Kentucky Children’s Hospital, a Joint Pediatric Leadership Working Team will help develop specialty services at the facility.

When construction is completed, which is expected in less than 18 months, patients also will find a 10-bed in-patient unit, 13 pediatric exam rooms, a children’s waiting area and playroom.

The opening in Pikeville marked the first official trip for Beshear outside of Frankfort since early March – before the commonwealth’s first coronavirus (COVID-19) case.

“I believe health care is a human right, and this is certainly true for our children,” Beshear said. “This announcement provides much-needed relief for families in Eastern Kentucky that no longer have to worry about traveling hours to seek care for their children. I congratulate everyone who is working hard throughout this global health pandemic to make access to these health care services a reality in Pikeville.”

Rogers said: “While much of the nation has been shut down by fear of the coronavirus – the resiliency of our mountain people is shining through today. I feared that the pandemic would put the brakes on critical projects like this across our rural region – but we are pressing on in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis, expanding health care catered to our children in Eastern Kentucky!”

“Today’s groundbreaking is full of promise for our future. I couldn’t be more proud as this community takes the next steps in construction of a premier medical facility for Kentucky’s children,” said McConnell. “When this hospital is completed, all of Central Appalachia can look to Pikeville for top-notch health care. Projects like this are exactly what Congressman Rogers and I envisioned when we established the AML Pilot Program to promote the development of Eastern Kentucky. I’m grateful to the health care heroes at Pikeville Medical Center for the constant care they give this region, especially during the COVID-19 crisis. Along with Congressman Rogers and Governor Beshear, I look forward to continuing to support Pikeville Medical Center as we work together for a healthier Kentucky.”

Pikeville Medical Center CEO Donovan Blackburn said: “On behalf of Pikeville Medical Center, the board of directors, physicians and staff, I want to thank Gov. Andy Beshear and Congressman Hal Rogers for supporting Pikeville Medical Center’s overall plan to expand pediatric services to the children of our region. With the efforts and support of Gov. Beshear, Congressman Hal Rogers and ARC’s Federal Co-Chair Tim Thomas, PMC received two grants totaling nearly $6.3 million to develop the region’s first children’s hospital.”

Blackburn added: “In addition to developing the region’s first children’s hospital and a new autism center, other PMC pediatric initiatives we have are the only NICU in our service area and an emergency department that is certified a Pediatric Ready and now the first emergency department in Kentucky to become a Certified Autism Center™ (CAC). These are just a few ways to show our commitment to serve the needs of our pediatric patients.”

The project was selected for funding through the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet’s (EEC) Division of Abandoned Mine Lands, as part of the Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) Pilot Program to revitalize the coalfields in Kentucky’s Appalachian region through economic development.

Since 2016, 43 projects in 21 counties have been selected for the pilot program.

Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet Secretary Rebecca Goodman said the pediatric clinic will meet a great regional need and foster a healthier community.

“This AML Pilot grant will allow thousands of young Eastern Kentuckians and their families who currently have to travel hours to major urban centers to get quality pediatric care much closer to home,” Goodman said. “This is great news not only for the health of the region but for its increased economic outlook.”

Projects selected by the AML Pilot selection committee in 2020 will be eligible for a share of up to $25 million in 2020 AML Pilot funds. All projects are vetted and approved by the U.S. Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement.