Group meets to discuss future of healthcare in Wheeling area

They presented three major focus areas: Emergency Care, Behavioral Health, and Job Preservation. (Courtesy: WTOV)
By  | 

WHEELING, W.Va. (WTOV)-- There have been a lot of questions surrounding healthcare in the Northern Panhandle after the sudden suspension of inpatient services at Ohio Valley Medical Center last week.

On Tuesday, a group of professionals, including WVU Medicine CEO Albert L. Wright, Jr., WVU President Gordon Gee, and Governor Jim Justice, talked about how some of those voids were going to filled during a news conference at Wheeling Hospital.

"I hate to say this because it sounds terrible, but it's a full-blown crisis created by out of state interests that could give a hoot about you,” Justice said.

They presented three major focus areas: Emergency Care, Behavioral Health, and Job Preservation.

Emergency Care

Under emergency care, the plan is to build three urgent cares – one in downtown Wheeling, one in Benwood, and one in Mt. Olivet. It also includes expanding capabilities with physical renovations to existing healthcare facilities and enhancing capacity.

“There are other mechanisms -- unless it's a true emergency,” Wright said. “Use urgent care, use your primary care clinics. Don't go to an emergency department unless it's truly an emergency.”

Behavioral Health

The plan is to add 25 beds to both WVU Reynolds Memorial Hospital and Wheeling Hospital, with financial assistance from the state. They also plan to build out teams of psychiatrists, nurses, therapists, and tele-psych.

“Psychiatrists from Morgantown are going to start to work with the local emergency departments here, the triage patients, and say this person is safe to go here, this person needs to go there. It's a work in progress,” Wright said.

Job Preservation

Job fairs will be held and hundreds will be hired, including physicians, clinicians, and support staff.

Everyone present acknowledged that this won't be an easy path, but the state and WVU say they'll work together to right the ship.

“From the governor's standpoint, to be able to do anything and everything I can do to help in this area, we gotta do it,” Justice said.