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Collecting Money Owed by Alecto

When Wheeling officials agreed to provide substantial economic incentives to keep Ohio Valley Medical Center in operation two years ago, they did so openly and in good faith. And for several months, they have continued to demonstrate that concern for the community by not pressing Alecto Healthcare Services, which bought the hospital in 2017, for payment of overdue taxes and fees for service.

That attitude of working as partners for the good of area residents has not been reciprocated. That was demonstrated last week, when Alecto suddenly and with little notice shut down the hospital, after initially stating it would remain open until early October.

Then, hospital officials had the gall to place part of the blame for the early closure on state officials and on WVU Medicine, which deserves credit for taking decisive action to avoid suspension of critical services once provided by OVMC.

Recognizing the stakes involved, city officials have been more than patient with Alecto, allowing the California firm to pile up about $500,000 in unpaid fees for water, fire protection service and use of a municipal parking lot. In addition, the company owes an undisclosed amount in delinquent business and occupation tax payments (city officials are prohibited by law from discussing the number).

There no longer is any reason for city officials to be patient. Last week’s closure means Wheeling has nothing to gain by failure to pursue aggressive steps to collect the money Alecto owes. There may be much to lose, however.

Already, there has been talk of some sort of bankruptcy proceeding involving OVMC. That could make collecting the money more difficult.

If they have not done so already, city officials should begin taking formal action to collect the amount Alecto owes Wheeling taxpayers. The time for patience ended Thursday.

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