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West Virginia systems to form 4-hospital academic system

West Virginia may gain a larger academic health system through the combination of Huntington-based Mountain Health Network, Marshall Health and Marshall University, which have signed a letter of intent to combine. 

The governing boards for each party voted unanimously the week of April 24 to authorize a letter of intent to form an integrated academic health system with the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, the medical school of public Marshall University. 

The new system would consist of four hospitals: 303-bed Cabell Huntington Hospital, a 72-bed pediatric hospital within Cabell Huntington, 393-bed St. Mary's Medical Center and 101-bed Pleasant Valley Hospital. All are part of Mountain Health Network, which also includes an 80-member multispecialty physician group. 

"While our institutions have collaborated for nearly 50 years, this letter of intent marks the beginning of our evolution into a true academic health system," Beth Hammers, CEO of Marshall Health, said in a news release. Marshall Health, the clinical enterprise of Marshall University and its medical school, includes more than 420 providers in 75 areas of primary and specialty care. 

The letter of intent is the first step in the process toward a definitive agreement. The three organizations aim to complete the combination by 2024.

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