Catholic hospital in West Virginia announces voluntary severance plan

Catholic hospital in West Virginia announces voluntary severance plan

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A financially strapped Catholic hospital in West Virginia announced unspecified staff reductions Tuesday, the latest in a series of medical center cutbacks in the state over the past year.

WHEELING, West Virginia — A financially strapped Catholic hospital in West Virginia announced unspecified staff reductions Tuesday, the latest in a series of medical center cutbacks in the state over the past year.

Wheeling Hospital said in a statement that employees will have until Aug. 4 to decide whether to participate in a severance plan. Further reductions may occur if the goal is not met.

The 223-bed hospital is owned by the Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston and has a medical staff of nearly 300.

CEO Douglass Harrison said Wheeling Hospital suffered an $11 million loss in fiscal 2019 and has lost more than $18 million this fiscal year.

“We are hopeful that by acting now, we are assuring that the hospital continues to maintain its viability and clinical excellence to meet the ongoing needs of the community in the future,” he said.

The hospital said it has already implemented other cost-cutting moves such as pay reductions for administrative staff and physicians, a short-term elimination of retirement matching funds and capital spending reductions.

The statement said the hospital also is preparing for a settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice. The hospital is facing a federal lawsuit accusing it of defrauding Medicare and Medicaid of millions of dollars through improperly issued payments and kickbacks to physicians since 2008.

Harrison said the hospital is continuing to look for a long-term strategic partner for its ultimate survival.

Another Wheeling hospital, Ohio Valley Medical Center, closed last fall along with a sister hospital in nearby Martins Ferry, Ohio. The owner of those hospitals, Alecto Healthcare, also closed a hospital in Fairmont in March. The West Virginia University Health System reopened portions of Fairmont Medical Center last month until it builds another facility nearby within a few years.

Pleasant Valley Hospital in Point Pleasant earlier this year slashed 53 full-time jobs and ended obstetrics services. Williamson Memorial Hospital filed for bankruptcy in October, and a nonprofit system that operates hospitals in Charleston and South Charleston announced in January that it planned to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy but would remain open.

A hospital in Ashland, Kentucky, near Huntington, West Virginia, also shut down earlier this year.

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