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Alecto made 15 attempts to find hospital buyer

MARTINS FERRY — Alecto Healthcare Services made numerous attempts to keep East Ohio Regional Hospital and Ohio Valley Medical Center open by selling them, a company leader said.

After it was announced last week that both hospitals would close within two to three months, city leaders in Martins Ferry and Belmont County officials said they are working to find a buyer for EORH. Asked why he believed local officials could locate a corporate partner for the hospital when Alecto had failed to do so, Mayor Robert Krajnyak said EORH can now be nationwide sold individually, potentially making it more attractive. He said he was under the impression that both East Ohio and Ohio Valley Medical Center had to be sold together as a package deal under Alecto, but that apparently was not the case.

Executive Vice President Michael Sarrao said California-based Alecto, which owns the two hospitals, attempted to strike a deal with 15 different health care entities to negotiate the sale of OVMC and EORH. Sarrao said he could not name the entities Alecto approached due to nondisclosure agreements, but he did say the search for a buyer was regional as well as nationwide.

“It was anything north of Morgantown and into Ohio and Pennsylvania. All the logical suspects,” he said.

Despite the fact that many area residents have believed that the sister hospitals had to be sold together, Sarrao said that was not the case. He said Alecto attempted to sell the hospitals both separately and as a unit. Sarrao added that Alecto officials told potential buyers about the unique features offered by each hospital, such as Ohio Valley Medical Center having a psychiatric unit and East Ohio Regional Hospital having a long-term care center.

He stressed that the idea that the hospitals could not be sold separately is incorrect.

“With the right proposal and the right structure, there is nothing to prevent that,” he said.

Alecto acquired the hospitals in June 2017, buying them from from Ohio Valley Health Services and Education Corp. The purchase price was not revealed.

The hospitals combined employ about 1,200 people.

EORH, founded in 1906 as Martins Ferry Hospital by Dr. R.H. Wilson, is a 140-bed health care facility in Martins Ferry. EORH works with the East Ohio Medical Office Building and East Ohio Regional Hospital Outpatient Centers in St. Clairsville. EORH has operated a federally funded Respiratory and Occupational Black Lung Clinic and a certified skilled-rehabilitation unit.

OVMC, founded in 1890 as City Hospital, is a 200-bed health care facility in Center Wheeling.

In affiliation with the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine, OVMC has had an osteopathic medicine residency program offering residencies in internal medicine, emergency medicine and traditional internal-emergency medicine fields.

The hospital also has operated the OVMC School of Radiologic Technology, a two-year hospital-based education program.

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