by Trish Rudder
The old Bath school building and its property on Green Street in Berkeley Springs is in the process of being sold to a new owner.
The county sold the property to Lotus Recovery Centers in May 2021 and since that time Lotus said it was planning to renovate the building to turn it into an in-patient recovery center.
Michael Mesveskas, Lotus director of development, said the potential owner will construct the center to Lotus specifications.
Mesveskas took over project from David Stup, former Lotus chief operating officer.
Sean Forney, Morgan County Commission president,
said Lotus told the Economic Development Authority (EDA) of this decision to sell in late November 2022 at its last meeting of the year.
EDA executive director Lyn Goodwin said the EDA terms of sale between the county and Lotus were met. She said a clause saying the facility cannot be used as an out-patient facility was signed in a letter of intent from the potential new owner of the facility.
Goodwin said that Mesveskas and Chris Eader, Lotus chief financial officer, told the EDA members in that meeting that the new owner has better financial ability to manage the construction costs than Lotus, and it would free up Lotus to concentrate on managing and operating the in-patient facility.
Mesveskas said in an email last week that “I can confirm with you 100% that the developer purchasing the property has no other plans than to develop it as the in-patient center…all potential buyers including the one under agreement specialize in the development of sites specific to behavioral health and substance use.”
He said the sale should be completed by March or April, and Lotus is to lease the building from the buyer once the documents are finalized. He said leasing the buildings for recovery centers is a common practice of Lotus.
“The developer is not a West Virginia company,” Mesveskas said.
The construction company hired to do building renovations will be local, he said.
The plan is to be ready by the end of 2023 and open in early 2024.
Certificate of Need
The West Virginia Health Care Authority approved a Certificate of Need (CON) on September 27, 2022 for the addition of a 26-psychiatric bed unit at the Lotus Recovery Center in Berkeley Springs, LLC.
That unit will be used specifically for substance use disorder (SUD) patients with psychiatric comorbidities.
“The addition of these acute care beds will provide the support needed to manage acute psychiatric diagnoses while concurrently addressing the SUD diagnosis through additional support provided by the LRC,” according to the application submitted to the West Virginia Health Care Authority.
“LRC’s facility in Berkeley Springs will mainly serve the Eastern Panhandle and surrounding counties, specifically,” Berkeley, Jefferson, Morgan, Hampshire, Grant, Mineral and Hardy counties, according to the application.
“The objective of Lotus Recovery Center of Berkeley Springs (LRC) facility is to open access for individual diagnosed with a SUD who would otherwise be denied treatment due to psychiatric comorbidities. LRC proposes that these beds are necessary to ensure West Virginia residents are afforded access to treatment regardless of psychiatric related factors, which deem them inappropriate for services at a freestanding behavioral health facility. The proposed project in this application aims to reduce hospital readmission rates and reducing overall healthcare costs by addressing patient’s SUD and psychiatric diagnoses in a single care setting,” the application says.
The county sold the Green Street property for $200,000 in 2021. At that time, Lotus estimated it would cost $3 million to renovate the building.
In 2021, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice said the three-story, 30,000-sq.-ft.-building would house nearly 100 patients for 30-to-60-day stays.
Mesveskas said last week that he has been to Berkeley Springs and he has a special interest in the Lotus Center here and it is “my baby,” he said.