The Times West Virginian

Opinion

September 4, 2013

FGH taking needed steps to continue serving area

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.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • 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.

    July 23, 2014

  • Too many taking too few steps to protect selves from skin cancer

    July 22, 2014

  • 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.

    July 20, 2014

  • 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.

    July 20, 2014

  • Relish the rich bounty of state’s diverse, unique food traditions

    This week, a group of federal officials on a three-day culinary tour of the state visited the Greenbrier Valley to find out what most of us here already know — we have a rich food tradition in West Virginia.
    The group was made up of officials from the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

    July 18, 2014

  • Soup Opera in need of your support again this time of year

    It’s happening again.
    It usually always happens about this time each year. Sometimes it’s a little earlier and sometimes a little later.
    But Soup Opera executive director Shelia Tennant knows it will come — usually in July. And she’s never that surprised about it.

    July 17, 2014

  • County honors men who gave all in helping their community

    The next time you’re driving in the Rivesville area, you might notice new signs on two of the area’s bridges.
    Those signs, which bear the names of Alex Angelino and Denzil O. Lockard, were unveiled Saturday in honor of the men whose names they display, two men who died while serving their communities.
    The bridge on U.S. 19 over Paw Paw Creek was named to honor Lockard, while the bridge on U.S. 19 over Pharaoh Run Creek was named to honor Angelino. Lockard, a former Rivesville police chief, died in 1958 at the age of 48 while directing traffic. Angelino, a Rivesville firefighter, died at the age of 43 of a heart attack while fighting a fire in 1966.

    July 16, 2014

  • State must learn to keep costs down and perform more efficiently on less

    The West Virginia state government began its budget year last Tuesday with a small surplus of $40 million — less than 1 percent of its annual tax revenues — thanks only to dipping into its savings.
    Let’s not do that again.

    July 15, 2014

  • Long-range vision with transportation has been made to be thing of proud past

    Last week’s closure of Fairmont’s Fourth Street Bridge is a symbol of a problem that must be fixed.
    The United States should be proud of the vision its leaders once displayed to address the country’s transportation needs.
    Back in 1954, for example, President Dwight D. Eisenhower announced his goal of an interstate highway system — something that transformed the country.

    July 13, 2014

  • COLUMN: Who would leave animal in sweltering car?

    I was standing and debating between two brands of a product in a big box store when I heard a call over the intercom:
    “Will the owner of a green Cavalier with a dog inside please report to the lawn and garden center.”
    I shook my head. I hate seeing dogs in cars waiting while their owners shop. About five minutes later, there was another announcement over the intercom.

    July 13, 2014

Featured Ads
NDN Politics
House Ads