CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia University Medicine will build a new hospital to replace a closing medical center in Fairmont, Gov. Jim Justice and university officials said Friday.
The new WVU hospital will be about 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) away from the shuttering Fairmont Regional Medical Center and is expected to have 100 beds and about 500 employees, Justice said. It is expected to be open within 18 to 24 months.
“You can’t stand to not have a community full-service hospital right here in Marion County,” Justice said.
Fairmont Regional Medical Center, owned by California-based Alecto Healthcare, announced last month that it was unable to find a buyer and that it would close within 60 days.
Albert L. Wright Jr., CEO and president of the WVU Health System, said health care workers will keep portions of the Fairmont Regional Medical Center open while the new facility is being built.
He said there will be roughly a month-long gap in services starting around the end of March due to administrative turnover, though the hospital should be running again by early to mid-May. They plan to have resources to transport patients to different facilities while the Fairmont hospital is temporarily closed, Wright said.
“We might have a bumpy couple months here but long term we’re going to get it right,” he said.
The WVU Health System operates 11 hospitals and is the state’s largest health system.
The announcement of the hospital was a rare bright spot as many medical facilities in the state have announced closures or drastic cutbacks in services.
In January, Pleasant Valley Hospital in Point Pleasant announced it was cutting 53 full-time jobs and ending obstetrics services. Other hospitals have closed in Bluefield and Richwood. Williamson Memorial Hospital filed for bankruptcy in October, and a nonprofit system that operates hospitals in Charleston and South Charleston announced in January that it planned to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy but would remain open.
Officials have also announced that a hospital in Ashland, Kentucky, near Huntington, West Virginia, would shut down later this year.