WHEELING — With Wheeling Hospital officially joining the WVU Health System, emergency/trauma unit officials in both Wheeling and Morgantown say this agreement will offer tremendous benefits to the Wheeling facility.
Dr. David Burkland said WVU Medicine’s national reputation will “greatly enhance their ability” to recruit even more of the very best specialists in medicine from around the country to the Wheeling facility.
“With WVU’s name we’re already having a lot of success in recruiting other specialties to the area,” Burkland explained. “We’re already seeing an increased number of specialists that we’re able to recruit.
“It’s a process,” he continued, “but hopefully in the next four or five years we won’t have to send very much of anything anywhere else, that we’ll be able to keep it here based on the recruitment that WVU will be able to help us do.”
Burkland also pointed out that the agreement will be able to help in the recruitment of nursing. “WVU has a great name nationally among nursing groups, and I think that will help us with recruitment,” he said.“This administration through WVU has been excellent in supporting nursing, so I think the future is very bright in that regard.”
He said now that Wheeling Hospital and several other local hospitals will be all operating under the same WVU Medicine banner, he expects a “seamless” collaboration between facilities as they move forward under the same platform.
“We’re extremely excited about the potential of what it can do for the community,” said Burkland. “I think this is a very exciting time for healthcare in the Ohio Valley.”
WVU Medicine Emergency/Trauma Center Director Heather Merkel said being able to keep patients local will be a tremendous benefit to the emergency/trauma unit at their Wheeling facility.
“It will keep people close to home, she said. “WVU has a lot of resources that we’ll be able to tap into.”
Merkel said while the Wheeling Hospital emergency/trauma unit will receive support from additional specialty surgeons and physicians through the new agreement, the rest of the staff and day-to-day operations is expected to remain the same.
Dr. Thomas Marshall, Vice Chair Community Operations WVU Department of Emergency Medicine, echoed Burkland and Merkel’s comments, saying he expects WVU Medicine will provide a tremendous abundance of resources that will benefit the hospital.
Marshall said their emergency medicine department oversees nearly a dozen emergency departments throughout the state of West Virginia, and that level of experience allows them to operate emergency rooms much more efficiently and provide high quality care in communities of all sizes.
“We have advanced care,” Marshall said. “We have the ability to send them (patients) somewhere in-state where they can get the care and not have to go to a big city like Pittsburgh or Cleveland or Columbus, but ultimately we want them to be able to get that care as much as possible in their community in Wheeling. That’s our ultimate goal.”
“We don’t answer to shareholders like some of the larger groups do,” he added. “We answer to the citizens of West Virginia. Sometimes change is good.
“We have grown significantly in the past five years and we have built successful relationships throughout the state. We’re all West Virginians and we want to do the best we can for the entire state.”