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Investigate W.Va Hospital Closing

West Virginia’s first death from COVID-19 occurred Sunday. An 88-year-old Marion County woman perished from the disease, at a hospital in Clarksburg.

Had she become ill just a few weeks ago, the woman might have been treated at Fairmont, in her home county. But there is no hospital there, now. It closed on March 19.

In late February, Aleco Healthcare, the California company that owns Fairmont Regional Medical Center, informed the more than 600 people who work ed at the hospital that it would be closing in 60 days. It took Alecto half that time to shut FRMC down.

West Virginians have become accustomed to being let down by Alecto. The same company shut down Ohio Valley Medical Center in Wheeling and East Ohio Regional Hospital just across the river in Martins Ferry last year.

But that did not occur as a COVID-19 epidemic was ravaging West Virginia and Ohio.

Gov. Jim Justice has called for an investigation of Alecto’s handling of the Fairmont closure. He is especially upset about how FRMC employees were treated. Some say they are owed money by the California company.

Even worse is the fact that Alecto shut the hospital down as the caseload of COVID-19 patients in our state continues to increase. At some point, lack of that 207-bed acute care facility could have devastating consequences.

As Wheeling-area resident are aware, multiple attempts were made to keep OVMC and EORH open, perhaps under new ownership. All failed.

Again, however, we were not in the midst of a deadly epidemic then. State officials should be exploring the possibility of emergency action to reopen the Fairmont hospital, if COVID-19 grows worse.

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