FAIRMONT, W.Va. – When Alecto shutdown the former Fairmont Regional Medical Center in late March, state, local and WVU Medicine officials sprang into action.
An announcement was soon made that WVU Medicine would be building a new hospital near the Gateway Connector in Fairmont. Construction on the new hospital is expected to take 18 to 24 months. In the meantime, WVU Medicine also announced that it would work to temporarily reopen the former FRMC site while the construction on the new hospital was going on.
On Tuesday, officials reopened the facility, now known as the Fairmont Medical Center, a campus of WVU Medicine J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital.
WVU Medicine CEO Albert Wright, WVU President Gordon Gee, Fairmont Mayor Brad Merrifield and West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice’s Chief of Staff Mike Hall all spoke at a grand opening ceremony Tuesday morning.
This temporary facility opening has allowed WVU Medicine to offer 100 more jobs to individuals from WVU, new employees, and some that were previous FRMC employees. The ceremony ended with the raising of a WVU Medicine flag by two long-time FRMC employees who now work at Fairmont Medical Center.
The hospital will have a 24/7 emergency room, a full imaging suite, and ten hospital beds for people who may need to spend the night. CEO Albert Wright said the opening was a lot of hard work, but they wanted to provide the same service you would receive at Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown or United Health Center in Bridgeport.
“When you tour through, you think, ‘oh its an E.D., it’s a few beds,’ but there’s a lot of work that goes into it,” said Wright. “We will build up over time, and see what the need is in the community. The obvious need right now was emergency services because it’s a long way to go up north or south on 79.”
From the Emergency Rescue Squad point of view, Angelucci said they were no longer driving 25 or 30 minutes to a hospital. Instead they will be driving five or 10.
“Our first patient was transported at 8:12 a.m. this morning, and I will tell you, our crews were so excited,” said Angelucci. “We’re excited to have our hospital reopen. so, this is a wonderful day for healthcare in Marion county, and thank you WVU Medicine.”
WVU Medicine will be running a trial phase to see if it will need to expand services, but Wright said they will keep watch of it and do whatever the community needs.
Marion County’s state delegates each issued statements on the hospital’s opening:
“We were outraged back in February when employees of Fairmont Regional Medical Center received letters saying that the hospital would be closing permanently,” Delegate Mike Caputo (D-Marion) said. “Hundreds of jobs were lost, and we are so glad that some of these individuals now have the opportunity to go back to work providing high quality healthcare to the residents of Marion County at Fairmont Medical Center.”
“We have worked with and urged the Governor and WVU Medicine to find a solution to ensure that Marion County residents have access to care,” Delegate Linda Longstreth (D-Marion) stated. “We appreciate their quick work to get this center reopened.”
“Access to affordable, quality healthcare is vital to our state’s population,” Delegate Michael Angelucci (D-Marion) stated. “An extra 20 or 30 minutes in an ambulance can mean the difference between life or death to a patient. We have to care for our people in our community, and the reopening of Fairmont Medical Center allows us to do that.”
U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, D-WV, also issued a statement about the reopening:
“The closure of Fairmont Regional Medical Center (FRMC) in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic was a devastating loss for Fairmont and all of Marion County. For 80 years, FRMC served the community with its emergency room caring for 20,000 patients every year. West Virginia has lost four hospitals in the last year, making it clear there is a critical need for access to quality healthcare for West Virginians. The new Fairmont Medical Center will not replace all of those jobs lost, but will help provide those services and is progress for WVU Medicine and the Marion County community. As we continue to battle this global pandemic, I am confident that this medical center will provide vital services to countless families with its emergency department, inpatient beds, and laboratory services. FMC’s services are more essential than ever to ensure our communities have access to the reliable, quality healthcare they deserve, no matter where they live.”U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin