In 1899, the West Virginia Legislature passed a law calling for the establishment of three hospitals in the state that would serve the medical needs of solely miners who were injured on the job.

One of them, Miner’s Hospital No. 3, was built here in Fairmont, and opened for business in October 1901. It’s building and ground have been described by some as stately and beautiful.

Years later,Miner’s Hospital No. 3 would go on to be named simply Emergency Hospital while continuing to serve the needs of miners, its services were expanded to include railroad workers and railroad passengers. Neither occupation would have to pay for the treatment they received at the facility.

In 1980, however, the legacy of Miner’s Hospital No. 3 would come to an end and the once-stately building would eventually be closed and later demolished.

However, in its wake and sitting on the same property would rise the John Manchin Sr. Health Care Center, a facility that also has a mission of helping provide healthcare to those who have little or no means of paying.

Since January 2018, there have been questions raised about some of the services the clinic provides. This year, officials said the healthcare side of the clinic had lost $250,000 in the first quater of 2019.

In recent weeks, the rhetoric grew to a point that an announcement was made that the clinic would be closed.

And, because many resdients of Marion County rely on the clinic’s services, the support to keep the clinic open began to grow.

Protestors took to the streets joined by members of the West Virginia House of Delegates who protested alongside them. Delegates have also written letters to the governor and the Department of Health and Human Resoures urging the clinic to be kept open.

Del. Mike Caputo(D-Marion) is just one of the vocal supporters of the clinic.

“There’s folks over there that just wouldn’t have health care if it wasn’t for the John Manchin Clinic,” he said. “It is a great facility that does a lot of good work for people who just couldn’t go anywhere else.”

Del. Linda Longstreth has also been vocal about keeping the Manchin Clinic open. She has said the building is sound, the employees are great and it provides the community with functions such as a nursing home, along with the outpatient clinic and Meals on Wheels for seniors.

It appears to us here at The Times West Virginian that the good in keeping the clinic open outweighs the uncertain bad.

And, like many state-level issues that have arisen in recent weeks, there are a multitude of unanswered questions that need to be openly addressed.

Gov. Jim Justice is on the record saying that he doesn’t think the state should be in the healthcare business, but he has yet to acknowledge receiving Marion County’s delegates letters of support or speaking publicly on how he stands on the topic of the John Manchin Sr. Clinic.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 16% of the residents of Marion County live in poverty. That figure alone is proof enough that the clinic should remain open, not to mention, the hundreds of people who die each month in West Virginia from the opioid epidemic.

Keep the John Manchin Sr. Clinic open.

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