WILLIAMSON, W.Va. — The assets of the bankrupted Williamson Memorial Hospital have been purchased by the hospital’s health care neighbor, Williamson Health & Wellness.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Frank Volk approved the $3.68 million purchase bid during a telephonic hearing Wednesday.
Willamson Health & Wellness CEO Dr. Dino Beckett tells MetroNews his organization has a three-part plan for the hospital beginning with moving some existing clinics and programs from downtown Williamson into the building.
“We’ll work to transition those practices that are under Williamson Health & Wellness into space at the hospital and then build-out services that we see fit and then we’ll put some partners in the health arena that we can work with to provide the necessary care that we need to have for Williamson and the Tug Valley area,” Beckett said.
Beckett, a Williamson native, said he’s had a model in his head for several years for Williamson Memorial. It includes taking his organization’s status as a Federal Qualified Health Center and work with a partner in the hospital business to leverage the strengths of each “to create a sustainable option.”
The hospital is near and dear to Beckett’s heart. He volunteered there before going to med school and did rotations there as a med school student. Two of his children were born there and he’s been the hospital chief of staff. He said the last few days have been a whirlwind. Beckett said Williamson Health & Wellness didn’t decide to submit a bid until late last week.
Beckett credits his board with making a “bold move.”
“The board deserves the credit for giving me guidance and getting this across the finish line,” he said.
The soon-to-be former owners, Mingo Health Partners LLC of Williamson, still plans to close the facility April 21. The new owners deal won’t close until April 30. What happens in the interim and during the transition will require some heavy lifting, Beckett said, adding some financial help will be needed if some hospital services are going to remain.
“It’s going to be necessary for us to be able to have any chance of continuing that until we get our feet on the ground and position ourself to do more long-term sustainable type work to make the hospital a functioning entity that we can be proud of,” Beckett said.
GOOD NEWS: I have been working with the administration at Williamson Memorial Hospital to keep their doors open, and today I am pleased to see an agreement to ensure Mingo County residents will not lose access to healthcare amid the #COVID19 pandemic. MORE https://t.co/eFh2TWT0Nq
— Senator Joe Manchin (@Sen_JoeManchin) April 1, 2020
The announced purchase garnered the praise Wednesday evening of both Gov. Jim Justice and U.S. Senator Joe Manchin who have both been vocal in recent days about the possibility of losing a key health care provider in the southern coalfields especially during a pandemic. Beckett said he’s going to need their help.
“The good news is that the interest in what’s going on here in Williamson and Mingo County has resonated well with our state and national leaders,” he said. “We have to work through that process with them to see what are the possibilities of being able to keep as much of the essential services available as we can.”
Really great news today from Mingo County! I’m excited that Williamson Memorial Hospital is going to remain open for this community, especially during #COVID19. This is a real blessing for Williamson and I am extremely appreciative and thankful! #WV #WVGov https://t.co/q1H7KQewto
— Governor Jim Justice (@WVGovernor) April 1, 2020
Willamson Health & Wellness has been a growing part of downtown Williamson in recent years and has been recognized nationally. It suffered a loss last month when a fire burned down a building it was remodeling for several new providers.
Mingo Health Partners purchased the hospital from Tennessee-baaed Community Healthcare Systems in 2018 and then 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.