MARTINS FERRY, Ohio (WTRF) — A Facebook effort to save Ohio Valley Medical Center and East Ohio Regional Hospital from closing was started just a few days ago but since then, it has quickly transformed into a full-fledged grassroots effort.
The group held a rally outside of EORH Friday evening as the future of the hospital hangs in the balance.
“We pray with the desire that our hospital remains open and that a suitable purchaser will come, buying our hospital and transforming it into a true regional hospital,” said Rev. William Webster of Grace Presbyterian Church.
Martha Connors, leader of the Facebook effort, held a meeting Thursday at the Ohio County Public Library to discuss the group’s goals, which she calls simple and straightforward.
To try to help save both hospitals. Hillcrest is the only mental health hospital in the area. People will have to travel at least 75 miles for psychiatric inpatient care if we close. We cannot move to Ohio.Martha Connors, Founder of OVMC/EROH Facebook effort
Hillcrest is a comprehensive Behavior Health system within OVMC.
More than 100 people gathered in a parking lot near EORH for an hour to pray for the future of both hospitals. There’s a sentiment that the closure of both hospitals won’t just diminish local health care, but it will remove two of the longest standing institutions in the Greater Wheeling area.
“In 1898, when Dr. R.H. Wilson finished his internship, he came to Martins Ferry on the advice of a friend,” said Denise Paxton. “Finding no hospital, he used his home for patients who needed personal care. This was known as the Wilson Hospital.”
On the West Virginia side of the river, people are worried because the nearest treatment facilities are in Huntington and Morgantown.
Those in attendance at both rallies came together in prayer for the community.
“We want everybody to pray,” said Kay McFarland. “Just hope for the best. We know something good will come.”
Organizers of tonight’s rally in Martins Ferry are asking people to stop and pray at 5:30 p.m. every night for the hospitals and our community.
For more information, you can visit the Save Hillcrest/OVMC/EORH Facebook page.