The Times West Virginian

Local News

April 27, 2014

Fairmont General: It’s about community

‘When things are tough, people come together here’

FAIRMONT — Fairmont General Hospital (FGH) is all about community.

That was the message at Saturday’s Fairmont General Appreciation Day, which took place at the Knight of Columbus in Fairmont from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The event included speakers and complementary health screenings.

The event was presented and organized by the Greater Fairmont Council of Churches and Fairmont General Hospital.

FGH Appreciation Day started with a program with remarks from community and hospital leaders.

Mary Jo Thomas, who serves both on the Council of Churches and as secretary of the FGH Foundation, emceed the event.

“It’s been said that it takes a village,” Thomas said. “In this case, it takes a community, and it takes a strong family at the center to support the hospital.”

Peggy Coster, FGH president and CEO, talked about the difficulties FGH has faced in its two-year search to find a strategic partner and the bankruptcy filing this past September.

Coster said she is optimistic about the future, moving forward with FGH’s new strategic partner, Alecto Healthcare Services of California.

“They feel that it is a community hospital, and that’s what they’re about, and that’s really what we should be about,” Coster said.

“Thank you for wanting us to be a part of your community, because together we can be business better than usual,” she said.

Representatives from the hospital unions were also present.

Terri Walker, executive board member with Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1199, said that she has been glad to work in her Marion County community at FGH, and has seen some positive changes in her time there.

“I believe in all that time that we have improved communication between the hospital and the unions tenfold, twentyfold,” Walker said. “Things are done a lot differently than they were. We are truly like a family.”

Walker also expressed hope for the future.

“We are very much looking forward to a change,” Walker said. “There’s something good that’s being birthed here.”

Jeff Greenly, president of the Local 550, said that, as a transplant to the area who has lived all over the United States, he chose to live in Marion County because of the great community.

“When things are tough, people come together here,” Greenly said. “That sense of community is the largest part of who we are and what we do at FGH.”

Other speakers included Mayor Ron Straight, Marion County Commissioner Butch Tennant, state Sen. Roman Prezioso and Delegate Tim Manchin.

After the remarks, participants were given the opportunity to learn more about FGH’s new services and have complimentary health screenings.

New services include bariatric surgery, heart disease screenings, bronchoscopy testing, lung cancer CT screening, digital mammography and multiphasic on demand. Representatives from those departments were on hand to answer visitors’ questions.

There were many complimentary health screenings available, such as blood sugar checks, blood pressure checks, carpal tunnel, balance and posture, and speech and swallowing screenings, and a breathing test (spirometry).

Alanna Wyant, RN BSN, director of cardiopulmonary/vascular, was giving out blood pressure checks. She said that these screenings are very valuable and can help people detect conditions they may not have known about, such as blood pressure issues, that can lead to much more serious problems if left untreated.

“And a lot of people can’t afford health care,” Wyant said. “This is a way you can detect many problems.”

Community members also had the opportunity to participate in a survey that is part of the Marion County Community Needs Assessment. The two-page survey is available online at MarionCommunitySurvey, and on paper with a prepaid envelope.

John Ridgway, a student with WVU’s Public Administration Program, helped create the survey and is in charge of the data analysis once the survey is complete.

“It’s important to address the health needs of the community,” Ridgway said. “We really want to get a good grasp of what the community thinks they need.”

The survey will be available online through May 15.

Coster said the event provided valuable information for the community.

“We don’t just want people to come to the hospital when they’re ill. We want to be able to make sure that the preventative things that can be done to prevent major illnesses are done,” Coster said. “We’re about prevention, care and treatment.”

Rev. D.D. Meighen, with the Council of Churches, said that the council loved showing its support for FGH through this event.

“We feel very strongly that the Council of Churches needs to support efforts within the community to improve and sustain the quality of life, since that’s what faith is all about,” Meighen said. “I think the churches and the hospital can work together to try to help people understand the importance of what health care means to the community.”

Email Colleen S. Good at or follow her on Twitter @CSGoodTWV.

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