VA not interested in St. Joseph’s

PARKERSBURG – The long-term future of the St. Joseph’s Campus of the Camden Clark Medical Center remains uncertain as a representative of the federal Department of Veterans Affairs has announced it is not interested in acquiring the property.

Rumors have been circulating on the future of the site since officials with the Camden Clark Medical Center announced a plan to consolidate the services of the Camden Clark Medical Center to its Memorial Campus over the next few years, resulting in the eventual closure of the St. Joseph’s Campus.

One of the most persistent rumors has been the VA might purchase the property and turn it into a veterans hospital.

Beth M. Brown, director of the Louis A. Johnson Veterans Administration Healthcare System in Clarksburg, said the Veterans Health Administration has various rules and regulations in acquiring space.

”Currently, the VA has a Community Based Outpatient Clinic serving veterans in Parkersburg through the Lewis A. Johnson VA Healthcare System,” she said. ”The VA is constantly monitoring workload and referral patterns to ensure we provide the best care to our nation’s veterans.

”However, at this time, there is no interest in acquiring St. Joseph’s Hospital.”

Officials with Camden Clark have maintained there has been no truth to the rumors regarding the VA.

”The hospital’s senior leadership is continuing to explore options for the St. Joseph Campus,” said Tim Brunicardi, director of marketing and public affairs for the Camden Clark Medical Center.

Hospital officials said the reason for the consolidation and closure was the substantial decline in patient volumes, the physical condition of the St. Joseph’s Campus and the financial challenges, especially in the implementation of the national Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Admissions are dropping and length of stays at hospitals are shorter as health care shifts from in-patient to out-patient services because of how insurers will pay, officials said, adding they do not need the combined bed space of both facilities.

Under the current plan, officials want to increase space at the Memorial Campus over the next few years to house a larger emergency department, relocate all of the open-heart services from St. Joseph’s to the Memorial Campus and conduct other moves.

In the meantime, both campuses are remaining open to meet the health care needs of the community, Brunicardi said.

”It is important to remember that the St. Joseph’s Campus is still open and caring for patients,” he said. ”There are no imminent plans to close the facility.

”Our consolidation plan is still a two-to-five-year plan.”