St. Joe’s ER closes next week

PARKERSBURG – The emergency department at the St. Joseph’s Campus of the Camden Clark Medical Center will be permanently shutting down next week.

Hospital officials have announced that operations will officially end for the St. Joseph’s emergency room 7 p.m. Tuesday.

The closure of the St. Joseph’s emergency department is part of efforts to consolidate the two facilities that make up the Camden Clark Medical Center. Plans call for the St. Joseph’s Campus to be closed down by the end of November.

Consolidation of the Memorial and St. Joseph’s campuses was announced in 2012 and recently efforts have been speeding up to consolidate all services at the Memorial Campus sooner than originally projected.

Susan Abdella, the emergency department director for the Camden Clark Medical Center, said she has sent letters to area ambulance service providers not to bring people to the St. Joseph’s Campus that day unless the patient requests to go there.

“All inpatient services are now (at the Memorial Campus),” she said.

Some services, such as X-rays and lab services, will remain at the St. Joseph’s Campus until the emergency department officially closes, Abdella said.

“After the 19th, everything will be (at the Memorial Campus),” she said.

The emergency department at St. Joseph’s has been seeing around 40 patients a day.

The Memorial Campus has done work to accommodate the extra numbers once the St. Joseph’s emergency room closes. Renovations at the Memorial Campus have expanded the capacity of that emergency department by 15 beds to 40.

Abdella said work has been done to reduce patient wait times and to better assess patients coming into the emergency department.

Hospital officials have been talking in the community about the consolidation as well as the closure of the St. Joseph’s emergency department, Abdella said. Signage has been put up around the St. Joseph’s emergency department so people will know when it happens.

“Everyone has been talking about it,” Abdella said.

Many patients have had an attachment to the St. Joseph’s emergency department for years and wanted to continue that right up until the end, she said.

“There is a lot of patient loyalty there,” Abdella said.

The closure of the St. Joseph’s emergency department will not impact the operations of the Camden Clark Ambulance Service or the St. Joseph’s Ambulance Service.

Although it has been associated with St. Joseph’s Hospital, the St. Joseph’s Ambulance Service has been a separate entity from the old hospital for years.

“There won’t be any effect to our work,” said Duane Weekley, president and CEO of St. Joseph’s Ambulance Service. “We will continue to operate our emergency medical services in correlation with the Camden Clark Ambulance Service.”

Weekley said the ambulance service employs around 90 people and no one’s job will be impacted by the closure of the St. Joseph’s emergency department.

“We will continue as we always have,” he said of answering 911 emergency medical calls, doing transfers to nursing care facilities and other services. “We don’t anticipate any impact to our operations.”

Abdella reiterated that stance, saying both the Camden Clark Ambulance Service and the St. Joseph’s Ambulance Service have worked together in a professional manner over the years.

“There will be enough business to go around for all the squads,” she said.

There are no plans for a formal closing of the emergency department at the St. Joseph’s Campus. However, the staff members are planning a get-together to commemorate the event.

The emergency staffs at the two facilities have been working at both sites. After next Tuesday, they will all be at the Memorial Campus, Abdella said.

“Our staff has been wonderful in helping to make this transition,” Abdella said. “We are working hard to provide quality care for our patients.”