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Officials Hopeful About EORH’s Future with New Operator

Martins Ferry city leaders and other officials stand near the prayer rocks at one of the East Ohio Regional Hospital parking lots Monday morning during a press conference held there. From left are Vince Gianageli, the Rev. William Webster, Service Director Andy Sutak, Water Superintendent Bill Suto, Mayor John Davies and Pease Township Trustee Mike Bianconi.

MARTINS FERRY – It appears all the prayers said at a group of large rocks near the shuttered East Ohio Regional Hospital were finally heard.

During a short press conference held Monday at those rocks, Martins Ferry Mayor John Davies talked about the news released Sunday regarding the purchase of East Ohio Regional Hospital by a group of investors called East Ohio Hospital LLC.

EORH in Martins Ferry was closed last fall by Alecto Healthcare Services of California, the same company that closed Ohio Valley Medical Center in Wheeling.

According to a statement released Sunday by Morgantown lawyer Michael S. Garrison, the LLC plans to reopen the building as a healthcare facility by year’s end.

Davies said he wanted to let people know the city plans to offer temporary tax incentives and utility breaks to the hospital to help it reopen and stay open. The details will be determined at a later date, but Davies said City Council already is on the board with the idea.

Davies said he also wanted to recognize the efforts of his administration and other local leaders in brainstorming ideas on how to help facilitate the deal indirectly.

In addition to Davies, in attendance were Service Director Andy Sutak, Water Superintendent Bill Suto, Pease Township Trustee Mike Bianconi and Vince Gianangeli. Both Bianconi and Gianangeli are county commission candidates.

“I can’t thank them enough. We all kept praying and that’s the result,” Davies said.

Davies said he has walked to the pile of rocks every day and prayed since they were placed there in August. During a prayer ceremony led by the Rev. William Webster, pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church, at that time, the rocks were symbolically hit with a sledge hammer.

Webster said breaking of the rocks represented a prayer chipping away at the problem.

On Monday, Webster said it had been a long time coming for good news regarding the facility.

“Sometimes we feel forgotten and forsaken, but he’s here,” Webster said of God.

Davies said he could not give details about the LLC, but noted the new company likely would be releasing more information about its plans in the coming days.

“East Ohio Hospital, LLC, whose operator has successfully owned and operated a 110-bed facility outside Dayton, Ohio, for nearly a decade, is working with state and local government to reopen the hospital campus in Martins Ferry, Ohio, later this year,” Garrison said in his release.

“The Ohio-based operator is committed to returning localized and personal medical care to the residents of Belmont County and the surrounding communities.”

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