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There is no question Veterans nursing home needed

The West Virginia Health Care Association is upset over a proposed veterans nursing home for Clarksburg. It says the home is not needed and that it does not make the best use of state funds.

"The state has limited dollars for seniors," said John Alfano, CEO for the association. "The pie is only so big, and when you add another program, everyone's share gets just a little bit smaller."

We can understand the association's point of view, but that does not mean the veterans nursing home is not needed. It is.

The association, which represents the private nursing homes in the state, is critical of the bill passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Wise that allows for the sale of bonds for the new home. The bonds will be paid off by the veterans scratch-off instant lottery game.

The association is protecting its interests, which is expected. It commissioned a study which concluded that the state doesn't need any more nursing homes nor will the proposed veterans home provide unlimited access to all veterans.

Alfano contends nursing home occupancy is dropping and that the number of state veterans is expected to decline 12 percent over the next decade.

We question both assertions. The latest figures from the U.S. Census show that West Virginians, on average, are old and getting older. And many of them are veterans. We find it hard to accept that a state-run veterans nursing home is not needed.

The facility will be located right next to the VA hospital and it will be for all West Virginia veterans, not just ones from a particular region of the state.

Alfano complains that there is a staffing shortage at the state's private nursing homes. Well, shortages in the health care industry are a problem all across the country, but, again, that should not be used as an excuse not to build the facility in Clarksburg. Shortages, many times, tend to open new doors of opportunity for those seeking employment.

Yes, private nursing homes are worried about this project, and we can understand that they want to protect their turf. But the fact remains that state veterans need and deserve a nursing facility.

Quite honestly, with our rapidly aging population, state nursing homes -- both public and private -- will likely have plenty of business to go around.

Today's editorial reflects the opinion of both the Exponent and Telegram editorial boards.

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