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Hospitals in Ohio and W.Va. closing after $37M loss

August 8, 2019

WHEELING, W.Va. (AP) — Heavy financial losses are forcing the closure of rural hospitals in West Virginia and Ohio.

Ohio Valley Medical Center in Wheeling, West Virginia, and East Ohio Regional Hospital in Martins Ferry, Ohio, have lost $37 million in the last two years and will close within three months, according to a Wednesday statement from the hospitals.

The statement blames declining volume and reimbursements. It also says that they haven’t been able to compete with the business practices of nearby Wheeling Hospital, pointing to a federal lawsuit that accuses Wheeling Hospital of defrauding Medicare and Medicaid.

Wheeling Hospital CEO Douglass Harrison issued a statement saying the closures are disheartening but didn’t address the lawsuit.

Employees of the shuttering hospitals said the news came as a shock.

“It’s very devastating. I didn’t expect this,” East Ohio Regional Hospital worker Brenda Nelson told The Intelligencer .

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice told the paper he was worried that the closures would mean that the state’s northern panhandle would lose its only psychiatric unit.

“We sure as a dickens don’t want to wake up to the next tragedy. That’s a big-time problem,” he told The Intelligencer, adding that officials need to find some way to “keep and protect” the hospitals’ jobs.

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Information from: The Intelligencer, http://www.theintelligencer.net

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