WHEELING, W.Va. — Things looked pretty bleak a couple of years ago when Ohio Valley Medical Center in downtown Wheeling closed but Wheeling officials say they have a lot of hope now with the Friday announcement by WVU Medicine that is going to build a regional cancer center on the site of the former hospital in downtown Wheeling.
WVU Medicine President and CEO Albert Wright said the cancer center, a joint project with the West Virginia Cancer Institute, will make it easier for cancer patients to get the care they need.
“Our mission is to ensure people have convenient access to our network of care, especially cancer care, and the specialists and subspecialists who are the backbone of that network,” Wright said in a Friday news release. “This project will enhance that access while also serving as a major catalyst for further economic growth and development in the City of Wheeling.”
The City of Wheeling currently owns the OVMC property. WVU Medicine will pay for the demolition of the old hospital and then the city will donate the property for the project.
Wheeling City Manager Robert Herron called the project “transformational” for the region.
“It will also change the economic landscape of the Centre Market area, downtown Wheeling, and the city as a whole,” Herron predicted.
The Ohio County Commission is also part of the partnership.
It could take up to five years to finish the project, Wright said. Once completed the four-story 75,000 to 90,000 square foot complex will house approximately 150 workers. WVU Medicine expects about 40,000 patient visits a year.
The city purchased the OVMC property, which includes seven buildings, in June 2020. Alecto Healthcare announced its plans to close the hospital in August 2019. The announced closing caught a lot of people by surprise as hundreds of people lost their jobs.
Wheeling City Council member Dave Palmer said Friday it’s now time to put the past behind and move forward.
“I am ecstatic with WVU Medicine for their continued investment in the City of Wheeling. While it saddens me to say goodbye to the ‘OV’ as we knew It, this will be the dawn of a new era for Center Wheeling,” Palmer said. “A facility of this kind will improve our healthcare in this area, so our citizens will not have to travel to other regions to get the care they need. I couldn’t be more grateful to our city staff and county commissioners for their help in making this project a reality.”