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“It was like finding a pot of gold,” officials say after touring OVMC


WHEELING, W. Va. (WTRF) – Wheeling’s mayor and vice mayor, fire chief, and Ohio County EMA director were extremely encouraged after touring the shuttered OVMC complex.

They found 80-90 hospital beds, 12 ventilators, one infant ventilator, negative pressure equipment and PPE gear including gowns, masks, and hand sanitizer that they removed on the spot to take to area first responders.

Regarding the building itself, they were equally pleased. While other areas are looking at hotels, dorms and gymnasiums, this option is far superior, according to Mayor Glenn Elliott. He said it could be used as a back-up medical facility if excess capacity is needed, as has been the case in many places.

“The first day, you get one or two cases,” Mayor Elliott said. “Then it goes up to 20.  Then 50. It spreads so quickly. There are a lot of folks here who could survive, but there’s just not going to be the beds.”

The infrastructure ranges from good in places, to needing work in other places.

“My understanding is a lot of the gas lines, the oxygen lines, are still intact,” Elliott noted. “There’s been a water line break that would need to be fixed.”

EMA Director Lou Vargo, a former anesthesiologist, was pleased to find several anesthesia machines that can be converted into ventilators.

“This was like finding a pot of gold,” Vargo said, regarding the supplies they found. “When we look at that bell curve,  we’re not there at the top yet. It’s not that we’re stockpiling or hoarding. We’re just preparing for the future.”

The building itself holds incredible promise, he added.

“We looked at intensive care, we looked at the cardiac care unit.” Vargo said. “Those are glass-enclosed individual rooms that we could use to isolate patients. It would be an ideal situation if we can get it functioning again.”

They said it’s now up to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and that agency may come in to look at the building within 24 hours.

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