CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Gov. Jim Justice says he and Sen. Roman Prezioso, D-Marion, will meet together with leadership of Fairmont Regional Medical Center, which announced its impending closure today.
“Fairmont Regional Medical Center is a vital lifeline to our people in the Fairmont community and those across Marion County,” Justice stated.
He said a meeting set for Thursday will be “to evaluate our options and determine the best way forward.”
“My administration has been studying various options over the past several months and meeting with delegates, senators, and other community leaders to try to find a workable solution.”
Delegates representing the region served by Fairmont Regional Medical Center called on Justice’s increased involvement after the hospital today notified its more than 600 physicians, nurses and staff it will be shutting down after attempts to find a new buyer failed.
A memo explaining the closure process was distributed to hospital employees Tuesday morning during a meeting to break the news to staff. The memo stated the decision to close the hospital comes after more than a year of searching for a buyer. Several parties reportedly expressed interest in the struggling hospital but none of the discussions came to fruition.
Employees were advised they will soon receive a W.A.R.N. notice of the permanent closure of the facility and that they may not necessarily have jobs up to the final day of operation. W.A.R.N. covers a 60-day period.
A statement released by the company Tuesday afternoon said its decision came following “a thorough evaluation of all available options, losses of more than $19 Million over the past 3 years, and an exhaustive, but unsuccessful, search for a strategic partner or buyer, the hospital has begun the process of winding down its operations.”
Alecto, the same company that abruptly closed Ohio Valley Medical Center last fall, said it decided to announce the closing now in hopes it will help facilitate a long-term solution for the Fairmont facility.
According to Tuesday’s statement, Alecto has had a difficult time recruiting doctors, faced “vigorous competition from larger health systems for patients and physicians,” experienced declining patient volumes, had trouble qualifying as a critical access hospital which has hurt its Medicare reimbursement rates. Alecto also said it’s been hurt by “its geographic location and the geographic location of other hospitals, decreasing reimbursement from all payors, increasing operating costs and an aging physical plant.”
A spokesperson for WVU Medicine released a statement on Tuesday regarding the Fairmont Regional Medical Center’s pending closure.
“We’re aware of the situation and are monitoring it very closely. We’re certainly concerned about the implications this could have for the residents of Marion County, as well as the hospital’s employees. Our commitment is always to ensure West Virginians have access to critical healthcare services, and as a reminder, Marion County residents have quick access to many of our services at our Fairmont Gateway Clinic and Whitehall Medical including Urgent Care,” the statement read.
Mon Health President and CEO David Goldberg also responded in a statement Tuesday:
“We’re saddened to hear about the probable closure of Fairmont Regional Medical Center. We have a long history of collaboration with the hospital, clinicians, and citizens of Marion County. Mon Health System will continue to provide care, treatment, and programs to residents through our already established services. We’ve recently announced expansion of Mon Health services as part of our ongoing commitment to the community, adding to our cardiology, primary care, and soon-to-be women’s health services. We will continue to monitor the community needs and meet those needs through Mon Health and other collaborations. The most important part of any solution is to ensure that citizens Greater Fairmont and its surrounding communities continue to have real choice in where they get their healthcare.”
In September, 2019, the hospital laid off 25 employees as part of efforts to adjust cost structure for reduced patient volumes. Hospital officials said at the time there were no plans to close the hospital.
Fairmont Regional Medical is operated by California-based Alecto Healthcare Services, which shutdown Ohio Valley Medical Center in Wheeling and East Ohio Regional Hospital in Martins Ferry in August of last year. Alecto stated those hospitals had lost more than $37 million over the prior two years.
Alecto purchased Fairmont Regional Medical Center June 2014 for $15.3 million after the hospital went into bankruptcy.