Fairmont General Hospital’s HealthPlex, scheduled to open late next summer, fits in with national trends to accommodate outpatients while keeping the primary health-care center more available for inpatients.

“It takes the pressure off the hospital,” said Joseph Letnaunchyn, president and CEO of the West Virginia Hospital Association in Charleston. “It keeps the flow of traffic down within the hospital area, but it gives people access to those outpatient services.

“Once the facility is done, it will allow patients to get over there quicker and not wait as long.”

Letnaunchyn, who has been the new head of the statewide hospital association since last November, talked to Fairmont General’s board of directors Monday during the regular monthly meeting. He addressed a variety of topics, some of which he recapped Wednesday.

Albert Pilkington, Fairmont General’s CEO, invited Letnaunchyn to address the board and discuss statewide and national health trends.

As for the HealthPlex, the Marion County Commission approved up to $12 million in bonds for the project, and the hospital board passed a resolution Monday to proceed with getting the funds, Pilkington said.

“We asked for a resolution for more than we needed because we’re still getting bids in,” Pilkington said.

Pilkington was reluctant to disclose the budget for the entire HealthPlex because of not having all the bids, but previous figures for the 60,000-square-foot facility have been estimated between $8 million and $13 million.

The HealthPlex, which will be located near Middletown Mall at the south Fairmont exit off Interstate 79, will be divided roughly in thirds among a high-end workout space open to the community, doctor’s offices and diagnostic services. There also will be a second location for Rider Pharmacy.

An orthopedist recruited by Fairmont General was to have an office in the HealthPlex, Pilkington said, but the doctor, Dr. Andy Hallberg, might be located closer to the main hospital instead.

“We have such a dire need for him to have a close proximity to the hospital, so we are re-evaluating that,” Pilkington said. “If we don’t need to have him out there (at the HealthPlex), then we don’t need to spend the money. That’s a significant piece of square footage, about 3,000 square feet.”

Hallberg was recruited because so many Fairmont residents have to go out of the county to see an orthopedist with only one practicing at the hospital currently, Pilkington said.

In addition to Hallberg, another recruitment announcement also was made at Monday’s meeting. Family practitioner Dr. Judy Bonfili will join the practice of Dr. Lisa Flower, whose office will be relocated to the new HealthPlex. Bonfili currently practices in the Eastern Panhandle.

Letnaunchyn also touched on several other issues, including the newly established West Virginia Health Information Network, which would allow doctors all over the state to share files electronically.

Many hospitals recently have or are in the process of switching to electronic-filing systems. Fairmont General will begin the process this summer.

This would be a separate system, and the details are in the early stages, Letnaunchyn said.

“A Fairmont patient may travel upstate or downstate,” Letnaunchyn said. “My records might be at the Fairmont hospital, but if I have an event and end up at an emergency department, an electronic system would allow that hospital to have access to my records back in Fairmont.

“The doctors could get a sense of what my medical situation is. When I’m in the hospital, I might not be conscious. I might not have all my medical information. It allows you to move into the mode of allowing the practitioner who is treating you to get the most current information on you.”

E-mail Mary Wade Burnside at mwburnside@timeswv.com.

Trending Video

Recommended for you