Marion County needs an acute care hospital.
No one is celebrating over the fact that Fairmont General Hospital filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection this week in federal court. But administrators say this move is necessary if there is any chance for the strategic partnership FGH has been seeking for the past two years.
In fact, Robert Marquardt, FGH president and CEO, described the decision made last week to file the bankruptcy claim as “not the preferred way to go” and a “painful action.”
We assume that’s because FGH is doing well financially, as net patients have increased by 12 percent and there’s been a $5 million increase in revenue this year. But administrators say the hospital “can’t go far enough, fast enough” to make it appealing as the organization moves forward trying to form a strategic partnership.
“In our search for a strategic partner, virtually all of the partners that expressed interest in us told us that they would not go forward without us filing for bankruptcy for reorganization,” Marquardt said. “It became very apparent to us that in order for us to go forward and position the hospital for the future, this is something that we had to do.”
There is certainly a trend with community hospitals joining health-care systems, and in light of laws that will go into effect in 2014 from the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act, it’s a fiscally conservative move to make sure that facilities have the means to stay open, serving their communities.
Consider that a trip to FGH from White Hall or Pleasant Valley is just as long of a commute as it is to United Hospital Center. The proximity of UHC is where FGH’s financial problems began, as the hospital lost its Medicare sole provider status based on the number of miles between the hospital and the new UHC facility. That was a $3.5 million annual hit FGH couldn’t quite overcome.
But consider other communities FGH serves in this county, places more landlocked like Mannington or Fairview or Monongah and a host of other neighborhoods farther from interstate access. In an emergency, when seconds and minutes count, this community needs an acute care hospital to serve those residents in need. This county also needs a place where residents can see their physicians, have labs done, undergo surgical procedures, get diagnostic testing, give birth to children or be hospitalized for serious medical conditions.
That place has been FGH for more than 70 years. We believe that steps need to be taken to make sure that FGH can be the place for 70 more years to come.
But we cannot forget one important thing. The reason for FGH’s success in patient care has been the staff providing that care. One of the hospital’s largest financial burdens are the benefits it offers to its 850 part- and full-time employees. As the county’s fourth-largest employer, those salaries are just as important to the health of our local economy. Many employees have chosen to stay close to home and work within their own community out of a sense of loyalty, foregoing larger paychecks at facilities within reasonable driving distance. And a decent benefit package has been historically an incentive for those employees to stay.
We know there will be negotiations between the hospital and the two unions that represent two-thirds of the employees of the hospital. And we know there will be some give and take in the process. Our hopes are that everyone can walk away from negotiations with an agreement both sides can willingly accept.
The next year will be the one that defines FGH. And we certainly hope it maintains its status as our community hospital.
Marion County needs an acute care hospital.
State must convince parents, schools about benefits of Common Core
It’s always nice to have a little bit of background information before diving into something new.
So we have to agree with West Virginia Board of Education president Gayle Manchin when she says the state should have done a better job of explaining Common Core standards when they were first introduced.
Those standards, part of a national educational initiative that sets learning goals designed to prepare students in kindergarten through 12th grade for college and career, will be fully implemented in every West Virginia school district next month.
Time is now for Tomblin to support King Coal Highway
U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., is asking Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to add the King Coal Highway project to West Virginia’s six-year highway improvement plan. It is a logical request, and one that Tomblin should act promptly on.
United effort to keep NASA in Fairmont is essential project
The high-technology sector is obviously vital to the economy of North Central West Virginia.
That’s why a strong, united effort to keep the NASA Independent Verification and Validation Program in Fairmont is absolutely essential.
COLUMN: Calling all readers: Be heard
I love to talk to readers.
I love to hear concerns they have about stories we’ve written, things they think should be included in the newspaper and things they think shouldn’t be.
Korean War veterans are deserving of a memorial
NEEDED: A total of $10,000 for the Korean War Memorial this year.
And a good man has been placed in charge of the funding. Charlie Reese, former president of the Marion County Chamber of Commerce, is now director of the Marion County Development Office. His task was to make a recommendation as to what steps are necessary to keep the project moving.
Roll up your sleeves, give blood and you can save lives
It takes up to 100 units of blood to save the life of someone who sustains life-threatening injuries in a vehicle accident.
We’re hoping that the number of people who come to Fairmont Senior High School on Friday for and American Red Cross blood drive will exceed that amount.
Vehicles and motorcycles must share the road safely
The days are long. The weather is superb. There’s plenty of leisure time in these lazy days of summer.
It’s the perfect time to take a long motorcycle ride.
It’s also the perfect opportunity for us to take the time to remind not only riders but drivers of the need to share the road. And we feel compelled to mention it because just within the month of July, there have been two motorcycle-versus-car accidents within the City of Fairmont alone — one with severe injuries sustained by the motorcyclist and the other with less serious injury.
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Distracted driving: It isn’t worth fine or a life
Today marks the day that police agencies from six states are joining forces to crack down on one thing — distracted driving.
And they will focus on that traffic violation for a solid week, with the stepped-up effort to curb distracted driving wrapping up on Saturday, July 26.
COLUMN: Are we people watchers or people judgers?
Let me tell you about my little friend Robby. Well, actually, it’s more about his family and especially his mom. I didn’t get her name. I heard Robby’s name quite a bit, though, during a trip home from Birmingham, Alabama.
I noticed the family in the Birmingham airport immediately. They were just the kind of family you’d notice.
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