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Purchase of Wheeling business hits snag

ON HOLD — The terms of a purchase agreement between WVU Medicine and the Health Plan are being re-evaluated, officials with the organizations have announced. -- File photo

WHEELING — Executives from WVU Medicine and the Health Plan are stepping back from an agreement for WVU to purchase the Wheeling firm in order to re-evaluate the terms of purchase.

Tony Condia, vice president of marketing at WVU Medicine, said the entities mutually decided to reassess the plan.

“The goal still remains — to get a place where we can come together,” Condia said. “I don’t think the intent is to walk away. A note went out (Dec. 9) to the folks at the Health Plan, and to a casual reader, you might have that impression, but I think both parties are still interested in figuring out how they could still make it work.”

Condia described the move as “pushing reset on the original terms,” as both parties now have more information than when talks began months ago.

“Seven months ago we agreed to extend our due diligence, so that January start date was great when we first started,” he said. “I think it’s going to take longer, but as long as both parties are committed to the same result with a clearer set of terms, it’s just a matter of ‘when,’ not ‘if.'”

Representatives from the Health Plan did not return calls seeking comment.

Condia reiterated that from the perspective of WVU Medicine, the reassessment will help ensure the proper application of health care for Mountain State residents.

“Our big picture goal is to bring WVU Medicine and the Health Plan together and create a fully integrated financial and health care delivery network,” he said. “With that model, and that transition, comes lots of benefits for the state of West Virginia. We’re in a better position to help manage significant health issues in the state, and it really is the ultimate direction that health care can take, and this represents a transformational moment.”

Condia added that the closure of Ohio Valley Medical Center in Wheeling and East Ohio Regional Hospital in Martins Ferry had no bearing on the decision.

“They’re separate buckets, separate sets of issues,” he said. “We’re working closely with the management at Wheeling Hospital, and with Reynolds (Memorial Hospital) to make sure the added capacity can be met, particularly in the areas of behavioral medicine and psychology.”

WVU Medicine has management agreements with Wheeling Hospital and WVU Medicine Barnesville Hospital in Ohio and owns WVU Medicine Reynolds Memorial Hospital in Glen Dale.

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