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Hospitals move closer to merge

March 4, 2011

PARKERSBURG - The consolidation of Camden-Clark Memorial Hospital and St. Joseph's Hospital under one organization is continuing to move forward to its completion.

The two facilities are expected to be officially part of West Virginia United Health System by early March.

"We hope to have that done by the first of March," Tom Jones, president and CEO of WVUHS, told the Parkersburg Rotary Club in January. "Under the worst of circumstances, it would be no later than the first of April."

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News and Sentinel File Photo
Tom Jones, president and CEO of West Virginia United Health System, speaks to the Parkersburg Rotary Club about the consolidation of Camden-Clark Memorial Hospital and St. Joseph Hospital.

In September, officials with WVUHS announced the intent to purchase St. Joseph's while simultaneously affiliating with Camden-Clark, bringing both organizations together under one organization.

The deal received the approval of the Federal Trade Commission and the West Virginia Health Care Authority recently approved the Certificate of Need for WVUHS to purchase St. Joseph's Hospital. Using the analogy of buying a house, Jones had said they were "waiting to get the final mortgage papers signed" in their purchase of St. Joseph's Hospital.

"All of the regulatory hurdles have been overcome," he told the Rotary Club. "This will definitely happen."

Both hospitals will be consolidated under the CCMH legal and governance structure and operate as a subsidiary of WVUHS.

Over the past couple of months, St. Joseph's employees have been filling out employment paperwork with CCMH.

"We have had more than 750 responses from St. Joseph's employees to consolidate with Camden-Clark Memorial Hospital," Mike King, CEO of CCMH, said in February. "Of the 750, 24 were former CCMH employees and were reviewed for personnel issues.

"One elected not to apply for the job, and only five were not offered positions in the consolidation process. All others who responded will be offered positions in the upcoming consolidation."

The new combined entity, which is expected to have over 2,000 employees, will be a nearly $400 million organization that will see about half a million outpatients every year drawing from 10 counties, local hospital officials said.

Once together, local hospital officials will have a role in WVUHS decisions.

"I would want the community to know a couple of things," Jones told the Area Roundtable in December. "One, we are not here to run health care in Parkersburg, West Virginia. We are here to make it better. We believe we can improve quality and we can lower costs.

"Second, the local board (which will be over both hospitals) will continue to make most of the decisions regarding the health care in Parkersburg. They will come up with their budgets and they will decide how they will spend their capital and decide on what services will be added and what services shouldn't be added."

In addition, local people will have a say in company-wide decisions.

"Not only will it be the same people making the decisions here in Parkersburg, but five of those people will be serving on our 21-member board," Jones had said. "They will not only have an impact here in Parkersburg, they will have an impact on our entire system as well, because they will have 25 percent of the votes on that board."

Being a part of the WVUHS will provide both hospitals with cost savings as well as opportunities to increase education and research and bring new services into the area. There have been transition teams formed that will be comparing operations and policies at both facilities and utilizing the best of both groups, hospital officials said.

When the transition becomes official, patients and employees won't notice any real difference the day after.

"The next day is going to be remarkedly anti-climatic, because you are going to come in and do the exact same thing you did the day before and in the exact same way," King has said.

King believes the new entity will take its place in the forefront of health care in the state.

"Both hospitals have done a lot of good work," he had said. "I think the opportunities of them coming together really make our past accomplishments pale in comparison to what we can accomplish together."



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