OVMC to suspend acute and emergency services

WHEELING — Ohio Valley Medical Center has suspended acute and emergency medical services.

In a statement released Tuesday, OVMC officials called it an “unwanted, yet unavoidable step,” and blamed the action “upon a lack of interest from potential purchasers” and “an overall lack of response from state officials.”

“Although we made every effort to interest WVU Medicine and Wheeling Hospital in taking over part of our downtown campus, they simply were not interested in our facilities that provide acute and emergency medical services,” said Daniel Dunmyer, CEO of OVMC.

“We were also contacted by officials from the state of West Virginia, who toured the campus to evaluate the building for other uses; however, we understand that nothing will be done to save acute and emergency medical services at OVMC. It’s very unfortunate,” he said.

Karin Janiszewski, director of corporate communications and public relations of WVU Medicine, said the abrupt closure came as a shock, given ongoing negotiations between WVU Medicine and OVMC to pick up the latter’s share of psychiatric services.

“WVU Medicine has been negotiating in good faith with OVMC to assume psychiatric services on the campus of OVMC with the understanding that OVMC would continue to provide services until October,” Janiszewski said in a statement Tuesday evening. “We were therefore very surprised by OVMC’s late-day announcement today and unfortunate decision to abruptly close services even earlier than expected. We have been working diligently with Alecto, OVMC’s owner, to determine how WVU Medicine can best fill the gaps in care in light of Alecto’s decision to close the hospital in October. We are especially hopeful that we can reach an agreement to ensure the continuity of psychiatric care in the area, and will continue to negotiate in good faith toward that goal.”

Tuesday evening, Douglass Harrison, CEO of Wheeling Hospital, also called the news “a surprise,” and said Wheeling Hospital would be considering the next steps to take.

“The OVMC news today was a surprise, due to the fact that the expected closing was Oct. 7,” Harrison said. “In addition, it was understood that both OVMC and EORH would close on that date. Wheeling Hospital is currently evaluating the situation and our next steps.”

In August, Dunmyer announced that OVMC and East Ohio Regional Hospital in Martins Ferry would close permanently by Oct. 7. More than 1,000 jobs, including 750 at OVMC, will be lost upon closure of the two facilities, officials have said.

“Our federal senators, congressman and local officials, including our state legislative delegation, Ohio County Commission, Wheeling’s mayor and City Council have and are still diligently working along with us to find a solution,” Dunmyer said.