Local hospitals reach compromise
Published: Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, July 18, 2012 10:07
West Virginia University Hospitals will soon be hiring 750 new employees and providing more space for patients thanks to a compromise between WVUH and Monongalia General Hospital.
Monday Mon General Hospital’s parent company Monongalia Health System said it will drop its challenge to West Virginia University Hospital’s proposed $248 million expansion.
In return, WVUH has trimmed the expansion plans, cutting 25 patient beds and nearly $20 million from the project budget.
The two parties were scheduled to meet in Charleston, W.Va, Tuesday in a public hearing with the Health Care Authority to discuss the issue, but mutually agreed to cancel the hearing following negotiations the previous week.
Administrators from either side haven’t commented on the deal, but a release from Mon General said the two entities will "explore future cooperative clinical and programmatic opportunities to benefit the community at large."
The deal marks the end of a conflict between Mon General and WVUH. In January WVUH announced the expansion, which will be its largest since the construction of Ruby Memorial Hospital more than 20 years ago.
In response, Mon Health System filed March 12 with the West Virginia Health Care Authority as a party affected by the expansion and asked for a public hearing about the project.
The hearing would have delayed construction for up to nine months.
In a release Darryl Duncan, president and CEO of Mon Health System, said the motivation behind the hearing was to ensure accountability.
"When hospital-based services are required, the value of those services should be considered – that is, the consumer should be receiving the highest quality care at the lowest possible cost," he said. "Mon Health System requested the public hearing so these questions can be answered in a public and accountable forum."
Critics at WVUH have claimed Mon Health Systems was trying to delay the project.
"Our community hospital is building nothing but roadblocks to our progress and claiming to be doing it to hold WVUH accountable," said Bruce McClymonds, president and CEO of WVUH, in an editorial published by The Dominion Post.
Last year more than 5,000 patients were transferred to WVUH hospitals, and more than 200 of them came from Mon General Hospital. However, McClymonds firmly believes the two hospitals aren’t competing for patients.
"We are not in a competition because we’re not playing on the same field. But we should all have a common goal: to ensure that all citizens have access to quality medical care," he said.
Duncan asserted that the costs of the expansion, about $680 million throughout 12 years, made transparency necessary.
"A public hearing should be welcomed when so much is at stake," he said.
Plans will now move forward since the hearing has been dropped. The expansion will now add 114 new beds in a 10-story tower, provide a new home for the Jon Michael Moore Trauma Center and Emergency Department, add 15 beds to WVU Children’s Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and create more than 750 new jobs, according to WVUH’s website.