Closure of St. Joseph’s set

PARKERSBURG – Camden Clark Medical Center has developed a time schedule for the closure of the St. Joseph’s Campus.

Rather up to four years, the closure will take place in two phases over five years, said Mike King, president and chief executive officer of Camden Clark.

The plan to eventually move all services to the Memorial Campus will be done without impacting patient care or access to services, according to King. Plans are in place to increase space at the Memorial Campus to accommodate programs being moved from the St. Joseph’s Campus.

In August, King announced the St. Joseph’s Campus will be closed in the next two to four years.

”I announced that, over the next two to four years, Camden Clark Medical Center would relocate and consolidate all hospital acute care services to the Memorial Campus,” King said. ”The notion being that consolidated, our medical center would be stronger programmatically, clinically and economically.”

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.

However, based on current inpatient volumes and bed capacity, the complete consolidation of acute care services will occur in two phases over five years, King wrote.

”The reason for the longer time frame is that, as we more closely examined the requirements to make this move, there is simply not enough space at the Memorial Campus to accommodate all of the programs and services currently housed at the St. Joseph’s Campus in the manner we desire,” King said.

The first phase will occur over the next two years and will relocate all aspects of the cardiac program, including open heart, from St. Joseph’s to the Memorial Campus, King said.

The emergency department at the Memorial campus will be expanded to accommodate both campuses’ emergency patient population, King said.

The second phase will be completed in five years and will include the relocation of all remaining acute inpatient services including orthopedics and spine, King said. This second phase will mean the addition of new space at the Memorial Campus, he said.

”Camden Clark Medical Center Board approved this direction at the December meeting,” King said. ”The next phase will be to begin the planning in earnest for these moves in a way that revitalize our physical plant and benefit our patients and families and meet the needs of our physician community.”

St. Joseph’s Hospital was established more than 100 years ago by the Sisters of St. Joseph and was the second Catholic hospital in West Virginia. West Virginia United Health System with Camden Clark purchased St. Joseph’s from Signature Hospital Corp. for $87 million in a deal completed in March 2011 and merged it with Camden-Clark Memorial Hospital to form Camden Clark Medical Center.

Much misinformation and false rumors have been spread since the announcement was of the closure of the St. Joseph’s Campus, King said. Among the rumors are plans to to sell Camden Clark, closure of services and the possible uses for the St. Joseph’s Campus.

The immediate closure of St. Joseph’s campus has never been a part of the consolidation plan, King said.

”It continues to operate and will remain open until we can relocate and consolidate all services to one convenient location,” he said. ”Moreover, rumors about the elimination of specific services are also blatantly false.

”For instance, our heart program is not going away. Not only is it alive and thriving, it is continuing to grow,” King said. “In fact, we have added an additional thoracic-heart surgeon in December to enhance our services and coverage.”

The emergency department at St. Joseph’s also will continue to operate until emergency services are relocated and consolidated, he said.

Among rumors is the St. Joseph’s facility could be bought by the government for a Veterans Administration hospital. A comment from the VA was not immediately available.

Residents have much to be excited about, King said.

”We’re going to bring to our Mid-Ohio Valley a medical center – new buildings, expanded services and more specialties,” he said. ”This means state-of-the-art medical services for the region, new construction jobs for workers and a more modern downtown campus for our state’s third largest medical center right here at home.”