WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Joe Manchin says there’s no way Fairmont Regional Medical Center should be allowed to close in the middle of a pandemic.
“The state can absolutely use emergency funds to keep them open during this pandemic,” Manchin said during an appearance Wednesday on MetroNews “Talkline.” “That’s what needs to be done. That’s what should be done. Once those people are out of work it’s going to be hard to open it back up.”
Fairmont Regional owner Alecto announced back in February its plans to close the hospital. It stopped accepting new patients earlier this week. Manchin said he spoke with a top Alecto official Wednesday who said he’d be willing to keep the hospital open for a few more months with some financial help.
Manchin said Gov. Jim Justice could use his contingency fund and the legislature could allocate money from the Medicaid surplus to keep the hospital up and running.
“Do not shut the doors,” Manchin said. “Today they are in the process of winding down. Stop it immediately. Please, Gov. Justice, please, all of the legislators, take control of this thing.”
Justice helped broker a previously announced deal between Alecto and WVU Medicine in which WVU Medicine will move in about 30 days after closure and operate the emergency department until a new smaller hospital can be build along the Gateway Connector in Fairmont.
Manchin applauded that announcement last week but Wednesday said it would come too late for the pandemic.
“Any health care, whether it’s a clinic or a hospital, that’s been talking about closing their doors should do it all during this,” Manchin said.