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Officials Concerned After Staff Reductions, Closures At State Hospitals

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Hospital closures and workforce reduction are taking place all across the state during a time when experts say West Virginians need healthcare the most.

This week West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin announced a workforce reduction at Wheeling Hospital due to declining revenues related to the pandemic and a pending settlement. Wheeling Hospital’s CEO Douglass Harrison said he hopes to cut 75 to 80 jobs through voluntary retirement.

Healthcare cuts are a trend throughout the Mountain State and on July 30, three West Virginia hospitals will close this year. Fairmont Regional Medical Center in Marion County, Williamson Memorial Hospital in Mingo County and next week, Bluefield Regional Medical Center in Mercer County.

Debrin Jenkins, executive director for the West Virginia Rural Health Association, said cutting healthcare in West Virginia will impact residents who make up the third- oldest population in the country, a vulnerable age group for COVID-19.

COVID-19 has surged in rural parts of the state, which have lost healthcare facilities.

“I think it’s redline dangerous, like I said I think it will be a huge increase in death,” Jenkins said.

An aging population of both patients and healthcare providers along with a lack of private insurance are adding pressure to rural hospitals, Jenkins said. 

Wheeling Hospital officials said layoffs could happen if not enough employees voluntarily accept the severance package. 

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