Comments Off on $20 Million Small Format Hospital Approved – Fairmont
Mon Health CEO says project will be finished by the end of 2021.
Mon Health System received its Certificate of Need from the West Virginia Health Care Authority to proceed with plans to construct a $20 million, small format hospital in Fairmont. Mon Health CEO David Goldberg said the next step is to put the project out for bid. Construction, he said, should take 16 months to complete.
“We’ll be open by the end of the year 2021,” he said. The 10-bed hospital, dubbed Mon Health Marion Neighborhood Hospital, will be constructed on land the health system already owns along Interstate 79 near Fresenius Kidney Care in Pleasant Valley. Small format hospitals are accredited by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to offer hospital-based services that include inpatient and outpatient medical beds, diagnostic imaging and lab services and full-service emergency services. The hospital will not have an operating room, a Cath lab or offices, Goldberg said. When it is up and running, it will be the first small format hospital in West Virginia, several of which already exist in the Greater Pittsburgh area. More than 100 people are expected to work at the facility, Goldberg said.
The Fairmont area has been without a full-service hospital since the 207-bed Fairmont Regional Medical Center was closed in March by its California-based owner, Alecto Healthcare Services, after it could not find a buyer for the facility. Alecto said the hospital lost $19 million in three years. West Virginia University Medicine will begin using a portion of the shuttered Fairmont Regional later this year after it receives its separate CON from the state Health Care Authority. That facility will act as an arm of J.W. Ruby Memorial, WVU Medicine’s flagship hospital. WVU Medicine also filed for a second CON from the state to construct a 25-bed, full-service hospital next to its Urgent Care Center at the Gateway Connector, a $35.3 million project estimated to take 18 to 24 months to complete.
Comments Off on Mon Health Seeks Equal Treatment When State Reviews Fairmont Hospital Projects
Mon Health System hopes that it will be treated on par with WVU Hosptials when the state Health Care Authority evaluates their somewhat parallel plans to open new hospitals in Fairmont. Both systems want to fill the gap left by the recent closure of Fairmont Regional Medical Center. In a statement released Tuesday, Mon Health President and CEO David Goldberg referenced a March 13 visit by Gov. Jim Justice to Fairmont to tout WVUH’s two projects.
“Politicization of healthcare is not safe and not smart, especially at a time with national, regional and local impacts from COVID-19,” Goldberg said. “What is happening across West Virginia is a perceived focused toward a single source of healthcare by one non-profit dominant healthcare system. National evidence shows that this leads to increased costs, diminished efficiency of convenient access, and ultimately a market monopoly. Most of all, the choice patients have and the right of citizens to choose where they want to get healthcare is taken away from them.” He continued, “Mon Health System has filed a worthy and appropriate Certificate of Need application to build a new hospital to serve Fairmont and the surrounding region and deserves fair and balanced review and consideration so that Mon Health System is not excluded from the Fairmont market.”
On March 10, Mon Health notified the HCA that it will seek a certificate of need (CON) for a Mon Health Marion Neighborhood Hospital with an emergency room, 10 inpatient beds and the services of an acute care hospital. The estimated cost is $25 million and would take 18 months to complete.
On March 20, WVU Hospitals notified the HCA of two projects it will seek CONs for: a 10-bed hospital in the FRMC building to serve as an interim facility and Ruby Memorial campus, at a cost of $8.79 million and taking one month to complete upon approval; and a subsequent 25-bed hospital at a separate site, to cost $35.3 million and be completed within 32 months. Justice characterized the WVU effort as a 100-bed hospital, but he conflated WVUH’s plans indicated in its letter to the HCA. WVUH said that after the initial project it anticipates two or three additional construction phases that “could approach approximately 100 beds.”
Goldberg said in his statement, “The governor has suggested that West Virginia’s Certificate of Need laws might be set aside so that WVU Medicine can move more quickly to replace hospital services. … There has been no indication from the governor that the possible set-aside of the Certificate of Need law will be applied in a fair and equal manner for any other independent entity, including Mon Health, to more quickly proceed with its project.”
The Dominion Post reported that on March 13, while the governor said he was thrilled and “tickled to death” about Mon Health’s plans for Fairmont, it wasn’t enough to amply serve the area. The Dominion Post asked Justice about this issue during his Tuesday COVID-19 press update, but his answer was unclear, as he focused instead on his idea of using FRMC as a backup hospital should virus cases overwhelm existing hospitals, and waiving any CON process to make that happen.
Justice on Tuesday again talked about using if for overflow. “If you don’t dream big enough you’ll never get it done.” Without addressing Mon Health’s plan, he said he’s looked at way to speed up WVUH’s process, but the state rules and regulations regarding CONs are clear. Some rules have been relaxed for the COVID-19 pandemic, but others haven’t. “It doesn’t mean I’m not to going to go back and try to change the answer.”
Mon Health and WU Medicine both offered comments on Tuesday via email exchange. WVUM spokeswoman Heather Bonecutter said, “As I’m sure you understand, we’re focused entirely now on making sure WVU Medicine is fully prepared to respond to a surge in COVID-19 cases. We were surprised to hear the statements made yesterday. We are supportive of Mon Health’s project in Fairmont.” Goldberg said, “We have had multiple conversations with many parties to ensure healthcare choice and access is maintained in the Fairmont community for hospital-based services, outpatient care and durable medical equipment.”
“Mon Health System and WVUH have a strong working relationship. I have personal and professional respect for Albert Wright and the stellar providers at WVU Medicine, who are our partners in many services like tele-neurology/stroke, neonatology, nephrology and others. But, I also want to ensure the record is clear that Mon Health wants to be included in solutions for Fairmont and that our Certificate of Need application to build a hospital there is fairly reviewed in Charleston and that equal access, choice and balance in the market is preserved.”
Comments Off on 100-Bed Hospital In Fairmont Awaits Approval
WVU Medicine said Friday it will file a certificate of need with the state to construct a 100-bed hospital in Fairmont on property it owns next to its Urgent Care facility on Stoney Road. The news of the WVU Medicine project, which is carrying an estimated price tag of “$30 million to $50 million” comes just days after Mon Health System said it was filing similar paperwork with the state to build a small format hospital on land it already owns in Pleasant Valley along Interstate 79, near Fresenius Kidney Care.
Both hospital projects also follow the news last month that Fairmont Regional Medical Center was closing because of financial difficulties and the inability of current owner, Alecto Healthcare Systems, to find a buyer. CEOs of both Morgantown health systems have said their projects were in the works before Alecto’s announcement.
Albert Wright, president and CEO of WVU Health System, said it is applying for a second certificate of need with the state to open a portion of FRMC to provide services to local residents as the new hospital is being constructed, a project that should take 18 to 24 months to complete. The new facility could employ as many as 500. “We’ve had a number of job fairs,” Wright said. FRMC could close anywhere from the end of March to mid-May, officials have said.
It will take WVU Medicine about 30 days to get FRMC up and running. It will function as an arm of J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital, Wright said. “We’ll be leasing the space at Fairmont Regional,” Wright said.
Wright announced plans for the new hospital — located 2.2 miles from FRMC — at its Urgent Care facility at the Gateway Connector. He was joined on the platform by Gov. Jim Justice and Gordon Gee, president of West Virginia University. Justice said Alecto’s plans to close FRMC created a “real” problem, especially since the hospital averaged 20,000 emergency room visits a year. “That left everyone upside down,” Justice said.
While the governor said he was thrilled and “tickled to death” about Mon Health’s plans for Fairmont, he said it wasn’t enough to amply serve the area. “Albert and Gordon will tell you that I pushed them hard,” Justice said. “It (the new hospital) could have ended up as a 10-bed holding area where they ship people off.” “This problem was a big problem to have the seventh largest city in West Virginia without a full-service hospital.”
Gee said WVU was on board with the new hospital. “It is something we wanted to do,” Gee said. “There are 1.8 million people in West Virginia and you need to have great health care here.” Fairmont Mayor Brad Merrifield said it was paramount that the city have a full-service hospital. “It will help with the misperception that Morgantown and Clarksburg have certain types of health care,” Merrifield said; “Now, we’re all on the same team.”
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Comments Off on WVU Medicine set to add 5th hospital in 2 years
Twenty-three years later, the major mission to increase West Virginians’ access to healthcare remains largely unchanged. While the mission continues, some of what WVU Health System is doing to fulfill it has evolved.
WVU Health System (WVU Medicine), on the verge of partnering with Jackson General Hospital in Ripley, West Virginia, is in the process of adding its fifth hospital to the extended family in just two years — a significant increase over the system’s first two decades in existence. Last week, the West Virginia Healthcare Authority granted a Certificate of Need, clearing one of the final significant hurdles to the 55-year-old hospital joining the state’s largest private employer. Joining Summersville Regional Medical Center and Braxton County Memorial Hospital, Jackson General is the third hospital in 2019 to join, at least in part, with WVU Medicine.
Summersville Regional Medical Center along with Garrett (Maryland) Medical Center and Wetzel County Hospital are currently in a management agreement partnership with WVU Medicine. Braxton County Hospital, Berkeley Medical Center, Camden Clark Medical Center, Jefferson Medical Center, Potomac Valley Hospital, Reynolds Memorial Hospital, St. Joseph’s Hospital, and United Hospital Center are all fully integrated members of WVU Health System. Converted to a critical access hospital in 2012, Jackson General is a 25-bed non-profit facility that employs 300 people. Jackson General Hospital has received a certificate of need, removing another obstacle in their quest to partner with WVU Medicine. The hospital is trying to get ahead of the curve, according to Jackson General President Dr. Stephanie McCoy.
“You’re just always trying to think ahead,” McCoy told MetroNews affiliate WAJR in Morgantown. McCoy said healthcare — due to a sometimes arduous relationship with government — is often a “moving target.” “You have to plan and you have to strategize, but then you always have to have your back-up plan in the back of the mind for “what if this happens,” she said. Dr. Albert Wright Jr., President and CEO of WVU Health System, said Jackson General is following that “forward thinking” model — a hospital doing reasonably well financially, but recognizing that the nature of the healthcare industry is ever-changing no matter who is in the Oval Office or in Congress.
“Every scenario, any regulation, any proposed regulation is always going to pay us less than we get today,” he said. “So if we prepare that way, I don’t really have to worry about any regulations or legislative changes that change healthcare, because we’ll be ready to adapt to it, and we’ll be the low-cost provider.” Typically, WVU Health System added sparingly following the initial 1997 agreement with United Hospital Center in Bridgeport. It was a eight years before any other hospitals joined — eventually bringing Berkeley Medical Center and Jefferson Medical Center into the fold in 2005. It was then another six years until Camden Clark Medical Center in Parkersburg joined. And, in terms of healthcare, a lot can change in a decade. Since the Camden Clark acquisition, the Affordable Care Act — also known as Obamcare — was passed, survived a major Supreme Court decision, and went into effect. That, in and of itself, significantly changed the healthcare landscape. “Sometimes it does seem like we’re just a stroke of the pen from either making huge advancements or improvements or, alternatively, from devastation,” McCoy said. “It can be really hard to budget when the government can reduce payments or eliminate support with minimal notice and sometimes even retroactively.”
Following the ACA, more changes — or at least the threat of more changes — came in a very short period. Three more hospitals became full members of the WVU Health System family and, then, in the wake of a failed repeal of the ACA in 2017, five more hospitals (including Jackson General) have become partial or full members of WVU Medicine, bringing us up to date on the aggressive expansion. This is a hub-and-spoke model, Wright said. WVU Medicine is centralizing its major Morgantown hub while simultaneously branching out its spokes across the state in order to bring the resources — talented specialists, equipment, and support — to rural clinics and hospitals.
Ruby Memorial Hospital is the central “hub” in WVU Medicine’s hub and spoke model for treatment. “We’re building up our academic medical center significantly in Morgantown,” Wright said. “We’ve added lots of beds, lots of clinic space, lots of new physicians and programs around the Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute, the WVU Cancer Institute, the Heart & Vascular Institute, and then building the new children’s hospital.” “The spoke part of that is going out and acquiring clinics and physician practices and hospitals around the state in what we consider to be key, crucial areas in order to maintain good healthcare in those parts of the state,” Wright added. Though Wright wouldn’t specify, he did mention that there are usually “more phone calls that don’t work out” than ones that do when it comes to partnering with hospitals around the state. Wright said expansion, in this case, is about finding places to cut costs without sacrificing healthcare quality or access — which means finding ways to avoid duplication of efforts. “If you get most of your care — greater than 90 percent of your care — inside of one integrated health system where you don’t have duplication of efforts or re-ordering of tests or things like that and information available to all of your providers, you can actually cut your costs of care in half for a sick or complex patient over a three year period,” he said.
Naturally, that brings both Wright and McCoy to what many consider to be the sort of crown jewel of the WVU Health System network. Yes — the partnership agreement means resources that rural hospitals might not have had access to or new patients that WVU Medicine may never have treated. Where the centralization becomes key is the digitized internal system that allows a patient to go to any hospital in the WVU Medicine family and have their full treatment records brought up instantly.
St. Joseph’s Hospital in Buckhannon, WV joined the WVU Medicine family in 2015. For patients, Wright said it incentivizes them to choose hospitals in the network that have their history and can better treat them — often without having to stray too far from home. For the hospitals themselves, it limits duplication of treatment while also simultaneously convincing those patients that they don’t have to leave their home county for healthcare. “Wherever you go in any WVU Medicine clinic, physician office, urgent care, and any one of our hospitals should you get transferred, all of your information — all of your prescriptions, your labs, your X-rays, your imaging follows you everywhere you go,” Wright said.
The next step, Wright said, is crucial: broadband access across the entire state. That’s because, when appropriate, Wright said telemedicine — the use of Skype or Face time, for example, to communicate with patients — will save significant dollars. “That is the best, quickest, cheapest access we can give,” he said. “Telemedicine, virtual visits of our specialists, that’s how we are going to reach parts of a rural state that we would never be able to do otherwise.” Broadband expansion — 100 percent connectivity — has been an ongoing discussion for years now among some of the state’s leaders. Hopefully, Wright said, 100 percent connectivity in West Virginia can happen sooner than later — considering the “creative” plans he hinted at that will be part of WVU Medicine’s future. “I think you’ll see us announce at least one and maybe a couple of very creative relationships with healthcare insurers with the goal of exactly what I talked about before — the highest quality, lowest cost provider with the best access to patients,” Wright said.
Comments Off on Black Diamond Realty Attends the 2017 WVU Children’s Gala
On Saturday, February 11, 2017, the Black Diamond Realty team attended WVU Medicine Children’s 14th Annual Gala. The night consisted of live music, silent auctions, dinner, raffles, and for the second year in a row, the talented Hines Ward! The event was a tremendous success. The event had a wait list of 200 which resulted in the event committee reorganizing the seating to accommodate approximately 1,200 people. Although the final numbers are not yet in, the amount raised is expected to exceed last year’s contributions. The funds generated for WVU Medicine Children’s Hospital will help to support patient services, research and various pediatric programs.