PRINCETON, WV (WVNS) — Some services at Bluefield Regional Medical Center (BRMC) will be shut down. That is the word from administrators at Princeton Community Hospital (PCH). The board of directors at PCH approved the purchase of BRMC in October 2019.
The goal of the acquisition was to stabilize BRMC’s finances and enhance service lines. According to a release from PCH on Friday, May 29, 2020 market factors and the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to a further decline in BRMC’s financial situation.
In response, PCH administrators decided to permanently close BRMCs inpatient and ancillary services by July 30, 2020. PCH CEO Jeffery Lilley said they are working with state and federal authorities to keep a provider bases emergency department on the campus.
“The idea is to move those service lines over to Princeton and work with our state agencies, work with the city of Bluefield, as well as federal supporters to be able to come up with an opportunity to have a stand-alone department in Bluefield,” Lilley said.
This would include a lab and x-ray services. The associated physician practices will also continue to operate through BRMC.
“I am deeply saddened by this announcement and I regret that this is the outcome of the acquisition. BRMC has been a pillar of the community for nearly 50 years,” PCH Board President Rusty Sarver said. “It provided quality healthcare and stable employment for thousands over the decades. Many of the current dedicated employees have been with the hospital for 20, 30, and 40 years. Regrettably, with the volatility of today’s healthcare environment, our decreasing population, and reductions in federal funding and reimbursements from government and commercial insurers, there are no other viable options.”
The closure will affect 340 employees. Those people are being encouraged to apply for open positions at PCH.
Current and past BRMC patients may continue to access their medical records and online bill pay through BRMC’s website. The BRMC Patient Portal and online bill pay will remain functional for the next six months. After six months, they will remain functional on PCH’s website.
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin released the following statement on the decision. He also reiterated PCH’s statement that the emergency department will remain open.
“The announcement that Bluefield Regional Medical Center will close is another painful loss for southern West Virginia – especially as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. Today’s news marks the fourth West Virginia hospital to shut its doors in the last 18 months. This devastating trend makes accessing quality and affordable healthcare more difficult for communities across Appalachia and West Virginia by forcing them to travel unreasonable distances to receive the quality care they need. In a state that has been identified as being the most at-risk for COVID-19, that is simply unacceptable. I will work closely with the leadership team at PCH, which acquired BRMC last year, to ensure no West Virginian goes without the care they need.”U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV)