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Wheeling Hospital CEO Harrison rebuts Mayor Elliott’s ‘Regional Backup Plan’

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WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) – Wheeling Hospital CEO Douglass Harrison said he was disappointed to see Mayor Glenn Elliott’s proposal to repurpose the empty Ohio Valley Medical Center for use as a “regional backup” in the event of a COVID-19 local surge, even after a phone call with him mentioning the building is probably not needed.

I couldn’t help but notice there was not one mention of Wheeling Hospital nor the other hospitals in the region, such as Sistersville General Hospital, Wetzel County Hospital, WVU Reynolds Memorial Hospital, WVU Barnesville Hospital and Harrison Community Hospital,” Harrison noted. “How can the City of Wheeling develop a regional backup plan without talking to the regional hospitals and getting input into what the hospitals already have in place

Wheeling Hospital CEO Douglass Harrison

Harrison said all the area hospitals have been in daily discussions, making plans for managing the crisis to best protect the community and keep residents safe. Each of the hospitals, he said, has the ability to expand bed capacity, whether in its own facility or through shared resources.

Trust me, the Ohio Valley Medical Center and East Ohio Regional Hospital buildings were looked at and considered as potential options, but were rejected for a variety of reasons from the health care experts in this region

Wheeling Hospital CEO Douglass Harrison

Harrison also was surprised that Elliott wanted to bring in representatives from the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers in Pittsburgh and Huntington to assess the possible reuse of OVMC as a regional backup.

While I appreciate Mayor Elliott’s efforts, perhaps the best approach would be to pull in the local hospital CEOs, understand the capacity and work with us to develop a comprehensive plan that meets the needs of the community” Harrison said. “But instead, politics are shining bright, and he has chosen to speak with Pittsburgh and Huntington about spending valuable tax dollars on reopening a building that needs to remain closed as a hospital. Perhaps the better use of money, if there is money to be spent, is to expand the physical plant at Wheeling Hospital to meet the health care needs of the community. Trust me, it would be a cheaper alternative and be much more beneficial given the expansion of clinical services happening at Wheeling Hospital through its partnership with WVU Medicine

Wheeling Hospital CEO Douglass Harrison

While Harrison said the mayor has not reached out to him regarding a regional backup plan, he would be willing to discuss such suggestions with city officials.

I, along with the other regional hospital CEOs, stand prepared to meet with city officials to develop a realistic plan that meets the entire region’s needs

Wheeling Hospital CEO Douglass Harrison

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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