Digital Exclusive: WVU Health System President addresses future of healthcare in Ohio Valley

Digital Exclusive

WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) – After a turbulent summer for healthcare in the Ohio Valley, many residents are worried about what the future holds.

On Thursday afternoon, 7News sat down for an exclusive interview with Albert L. Wright, Jr., who serves as President and CEO of the West Virginia University Health System.

“Not often do you see a hospital close period, yet alone have two close in a short time period like the Ohio Valley Medical Center and East Ohio Regional Hospital,” said Wright.

With two long-standing hospitals shutting down in the Wheeling area, the WVU Health System has been working to accommodate an influx of new patients.

“We’ve had to scramble a little bit,” added Wright. “With the folks here at Wheeling Hospital, Reynolds Memorial and Barnesville, they’ve really stepped up and worked well together and have started to figure out what they need to do to meet the health care needs of the community.”

They have added beds and hired some of OVMC’s former employees in order to care for these new patients.

Meanwhile, three new urgent care centers will open across the area, including one in downtown Wheeling. Plus, a plan is in the works to add a behavioral health program in order to treat people who used to go to Hillcrest at OVMC and EORH.

Wright mentioned that WVU Health System has set a goal of establishing a presence in all 55 counties across the Mountain State.

“Wetzel County Hospital is becoming a full member of the WVU Health System next year,” he said. “We’re in that process. You get a lot of patients that come up Route 2 to Wheeling.”

While Wright can see success ahead, he knows that it won’t come easy.

“It’s going to be a bumpy path for a few months but long-term, I now think we’re going to have the right amount of beds in this community,” Wright said. “We’re going to start adding some resources up here, fill some of the gaps with OVMC and EORH closing. Long-term we’ll be alright but it’s going to be a little bit bumpy.”

For more information on the WVU Health System, click here.

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