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McKinley Searching for Solutions After OVMC Closure Announcement

David McKinley

WHEELING — U.S. Rep. David B. McKinley is working to find solutions after the announcement last week that Ohio Valley Medical Center would close in two to three months.

McKinley, R-West Virginia, planned to send a letter Monday to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a federal agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, explaining his concerns with the closure and requesting guidance in responding to the situation.

“This is one of the most devastating setbacks with long-term implications that our community has ever faced. Your attention to this matter would be most appreciated,” McKinley wrote to Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS.

OVMC and East Ohio Regional Hospital in Martins Ferry, which employ about 1,200 people total, announced Wednesday that they would close their doors in 60 to 90 days.

McKinley cited two main concerns, emergency care and inpatient mental health, in the letter to CMS. OVMC operates the only inpatient mental and behavioral health program in the region, and its loss would be “devastating,” he said.

The two hospitals accommodate 40,000 emergency visits annually, and the closure would result in an increase of 70% in emergency visits for nearby Wheeling Hospital and Reynolds Memorial Hospital in Glen Dale, McKinley said in the letter.

“Given that many drug overdoses must be treated in an emergency setting before being admitted for inpatient observation and treatment, this also has an impact on our community’s ability to deal with the opioid crisis,” he wrote.

McKinley said stakeholders need to look at options that might cause the hospitals to reconsider the decision to close or attract another entity to purchase them.

In the letter, McKinley asked the CMS what resources the agency can offer to ensure continuity of mental and behavioral health services currently offered by OVMC. He further asked if the agency has the ability to enhance the hospital’s reimbursement rate through the Medicare Wage Index.

McKinley further asked CMS what it can offer to minimize the disruption of emergency care and what financial grants and low interest loans could be made available to both institutions to reverse the closures or assist in an orderly transition.

According to McKinley’s office, their goal is to increase the chances that Alecto Healthcare Services, the hospitals’ owner, reconsider their decision to close or to make the purchase of the hospitals by another company more attractive.

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