More than 1K jobs to be lost in West Virginia, Ohio hospital closures

WHEELING — Federally required notices filed in Ohio and West Virginia reveal more than 1,000 workers will lose their jobs with the closures of two hospitals in Wheeling and Martins Ferry.

Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification filings indicate 736 workers will lose their jobs at Ohio Valley Medical Center in Wheeling and 343 jobs will be lost at the East Ohio Regional Hospital in Martins Ferry.

Alecto Healthcare Services, a California-based company that owns both hospitals, announced Aug. 7 that it plans to close Ohio Valley and East Ohio OVMC as early as Oct. 7.

W.A.R.N. notices are required by federal law when mass layoffs are expected.

Michael Sarrao, the executive vice president for Alecto, also could not be reached for comment.

The closures are expected to leave a major medical and economic hole on both sides of the river.

Gov. Jim Justice and Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., have pledged to find a replacement to fill the health care hole that would be created with the hospitals’ loss, but no suitors have been found. Many are especially concerned with OVMC’s possible closing, particularly as it pertains to the hospital’s mental health services.

“Over the past several weeks I have met with community leaders and WVU Medicine leadership to discuss the future of the hospital,” Justice said. “I am encouraged that a plan will be in place very soon that will ensure that top-of-the-line health care remains available to everyone in the Ohio Valley and that our great medical professionals continue to have every opportunity in the world.”

However, representatives from neither Wheeling nor Ohio County have been engaged in discussions with Alecto or other health care providers.

Wheeling City Manager Robert Herron said city leaders have had no direct discussions with any entities regarding Ohio Valley’s future, but they have heard Alecto has been meeting with unidentified representatives.

“I do know that … there are people, companies, that have reached out. I don’t know who that is or to what level they have had for any discussions with Alecto,” Herron said Tuesday. “Our focus right now is standing ready to assist in any way possible to facilitate keeping the hospital — all or parts of it — open.”

Meanwhile, Alecto over the past weeks has made $60,000 in payments owed the city for water fees, but the company still owes $151,602 on that bill, Herron said.

The property taxes on Ohio Valley’s facility at 2000 Eoff St. in Wheeling have been paid by a real estate holdings company that leases the building to Alecto, Herron said.

However, Alecto has yet to make a payment on the $368,000 it owes on the annual fee for the city-owned Center Wheeling parking garage and the company’s debt on unpaid fire service fee has increased by about a thousand dollars to $48,777 because of penalties, Herron said.

The city is continuing to work with Alecto on the late payments, Herron declined to say what measures the city would take against the company if the fees remain unpaid when the hospital closes.

“I can’t go into that at this point,” he said. “We’re certainly looking at all of our options.”