Pending Williamson hospital closure on Justice’s radar

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Gov. Jim Justice said Tuesday he’s ready to jump in and try to save Williamson Memorial Hospital if possible.

Williamson Memorial Hospital

The hospital owners announced plans Monday to close around April 21. Justice said he hopes he can stop that from happening.

“Williamson is in a county that it is the only hospital, Mingo County, and we’ve got to absolutely try to keep that hospital open,” Justice said during his daily media briefing on the coronavirus Tuesday afternoon.

Monday’s announcement from the hospital said any potential buyers have backed off because of the impact of the coronavirus. Justice indicated it’s currently difficult for him to step in.

“Now there’s private negotiations going on right now between two parties but I want everyone to know that I stand ready to help in any way possible we can,” Justice said.

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin said Monday that he’s also working in hopes of keeping the hospital open.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic increases the need for medical facilities we must do everything possible to keep our rural hospitals running. It is unconscionable that during a pandemic we are closing any hospital or health center that can provide the care West Virginians need,” Manchin said in a statement released by his office.

The hospital is owned by Mingo Health Partners LLC of Williamson. It purchased the hospital from Tennessee-baaed Community Healthcare Systems in 2018. Mingo Health filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last November. It said its largest creditors were the former owner and a group of physicians that provide emergency services.

Justice said he hoped he could intervene like he did when Alecto announced its plans back in February to close Fairmont Regional Medical Center.

“We’ve pulled it off with Fairmont to be able to give some kind of level of life in the seventh largest city in our state and we need to pull it off with the Williamson hospital,” Justice said.

Alecto closed the Fairmont hospital on March 19, a month earlier than it said it would. WVU Medicine has agreed to re-staff the emergency department in about a month. Both WVU Medicine and Mon Health have announced plans to build new medical facilities in Fairmont.

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