West Virginia hospital closes despite pleas to stay open during COVID-19 outbreak

Fairmont (W.Va.) Regional Medical Center closed March 19, leaving the state with fewer hospital beds for COVID-19 patients.  

Irvine, Calif.-based Alecto Healthcare Services, which owns the 207-bed hospital, announced plans in February to close Fairmont Regional. Alecto moved up that timeline after Morgantown-based West Virginia University Medicine unveiled plans to build a hospital in Fairmont and offer some services at Fairmont Regional.

Though it will be roughly two years before the new hospital opens, WVU Medicine plans to operate an emergency department and acute beds at Fairmont Regional until the new facility is ready for patients. Fairmont Regional will need to close for a month to 45 days before WVU Medicine can begin offering services at the facility.

On March 19, state House Minority Whip Mike Caputo joined by two other delegates representing Marion County, W.Va., urged Gov. Jim Justice to keep the hospital open.

"I've met with my other House colleagues, along with the Chamber of Commerce, and just as you, we're all very concerned about the coronavirus pandemic," the lawmakers wrote in a letter to the governor, according to WV News. "We are asking you, through your executive powers, to keep FRMC open during these difficult times."

Despite the pleas from lawmakers, Fairmont Regional closed the evening of March 19.

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said WVU Medicine would reopen the hospital to treat COVID-19 patients if needed.

"I have done everything in my power to keep Fairmont Regional Medical Center open and operating," Mr. Manchin said in a statement. "Our state, nation and world are facing an unprecedented pandemic in the wake of the COVID-19 virus outbreak and the closing of FRMC only creates additional uncertainty."

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