FAIRMONT, Va. (WV News) – WVU Medicine President and CEO Albert Wright was the guest speaker at a “lunch and learn” event hosted by the Marion County Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, where Wright gave those in attendance an update on the Fairmont Medical Center.
WVU Medicine resumed operations at the hospital last summer and announced in June that an additional $ 110 million would be invested in the site. Wright told WV News on Wednesday that the hospital was already profitable and “doing well.”
âThis hospital historically went bankrupt when it was a non-profit organization,â Wright said. âIt’s stable and it’s profitable. It’s not a big profit, but to stay in business you have to make more money than you lose, and we are doing it now. We have a lot of fixed costs there, so the more we grow, the more financially viable and stable this organization becomes. …
âMore and more, in my mind, the Fairmont Medical Center, even though it is a branch of Ruby, is becoming a full-service community hospital.
However, Wright said the hospital also faces some hurdles related to the COVID-19 pandemic, hurdles other WVU Medicine facilities are facing as well.
âThe rate of growth of inpatients there has slowed down because of the major staffing issues we’ve had,â Wright said. âWith this wave of COVID, we really focused on recruiting Ruby. But, everything we talked about that day is still on the plans, and there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work going on. We signed up with an architectural firm and an engineering firm. We’re basically going to be rebuilding everything where it is, but there’s a lot between A and B about how to get there.
Despite the system-wide issues, Wright said the existence of Fairmont Medical Center has actually been a major boon to WVU Medicine since the start of the pandemic.
âThe fact that this (emergency department) is there and open is a big deal,â Wright said. âOtherwise, if it wasn’t open, the other hospitals would be inundated (with patients). They did a good job there, and they did a good job of keeping some very complex patients. We are currently carrying out an average census of about 15 patients. Every patient we can keep there is keeping our other hospitals under capacity. “
Wright spoke with county and city officials over Wednesday’s lunch and learned from Muriale. Jonathan Board, chairman of the board of directors for the Marion County Chamber of Commerce, said he was happy to have WVU Medicine in town.
âIt’s extremely exciting and important to us,â Board said. âWe were there from the very beginning, and I can tell you that among the people who met us and took it seriously, Albert Wright and WVU Medicine were one of the best. We are very grateful for their attention to Marion County.
The sentiment of the board was echoed by Marion County Chamber of Commerce President Tina Shaw.
âIt’s exciting to see the progress WVU Medicine has made since taking over Fairmont Medical Center, and it’s even more exciting to see what’s to come,â said Shaw. âThey are booming, which means more jobs and more services for the residents of Marion County. We couldn’t be happier. “
Over the next few months, Fairmont Medical Center will see its number of inpatient beds almost double to 80, from the current 42 beds.
Ultimately, however, WVU Medicine has several other goals in mind for Fairmont Medical Center. This includes the reopening of the hospital’s operating and intervention rooms, outpatient departments, an infusion and cancer center, specialized clinics and a heliport.
Various infrastructure upgrades and the demolition of some of the hospital’s older buildings are also planned.
More recently, the hospital opened its new neurological services and further improvements are underway.
âWe are driving more and more specialties to the hospital,â Wright said. “We want to have specialties in the hospital that can do two things. First, if you set up your clinic there, then it’s good that the doctor is there all day doing clinics, but we want specialties. which may also cover inpatient care. If you take them off site and need a cardiology consultation, you have to go. …
âWe’re talking about doing it with gastroenterology. We do telemedicine, and over time I also want to reopen medical oncology. “
Fairmont News Editor-in-Chief John Mark Shaver can be reached at 304-844-8485 or [email protected]