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WVU Hospitals, Wetzel County Hospital Enter Into Agreement

September 19, 2018
BY LAUREN MATTHEWS - Editor ( , Wetzel Chronicle

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Wetzel County Hospital in New Martinsville has entered into a management agreement with WVU Hospitals, effective Oct. 1. WCH has been a clinical affiliate of the West Virginia University Health System since 2016.

"The people of Wetzel County and the employees of Wetzel County Hospital really embraced us when we first entered into the clinical affiliation two years ago, and this management agreement is a testament to the fact that our relationship has grown and been mutually beneficial for all of us," Albert L. Wright, Jr., president and CEO of the WVU Health System, said. "We appreciate the work and support of Hospital Board Chair George Friedline and the county commissioners for helping us take this next step."

The Wetzel County Commission released the following statement on the new agreement: "We are pleased WVU and Wetzel County Hospital have successfully completed their management agreement. The commission knows the value both institutions place on providing excellent services to area residents and we look forward to a bright future."

Wright noted that WVU Health System has had an affiliation with Wetzel County Hospital for quite a while, but added, "We are taking it to the next level."

When asked what this would mean to patients of WCH, Wright noted, "We are looking for an upgrade in technologies and efficiency and more physician resources. We are going to take over the management, and Dr. David Hess, CEO of Reynolds, will be CEO of both hospitals. This starts to integrate the two hospitals, so you will have an integrated management team with more efficiency."

WVU Health System's regional approach might mean the recruitment of physicians, to be shared between Reynolds and Wetzel.

"We've got a couple tricks up our sleeves, and there will be more positive news here in the next couple weeks," Wright said.

Wright said WVU Health Systems has recently announced similar relationships with Braxton County Memorial and Jackson General Hospital.

Established in 1920, Wetzel County Hospital is a 58-bed facility that employs 235 people. It offers a variety of inpatient and outpatient services, including cardiopulmonary, emergency, general surgery, radiology, and cardiac rehabilitation, physical, occupational, and speech therapy.

"We are again grateful to the Wetzel County Commissioners and the Hospital Trustees for their support and forward thinking in taking this step, which only serves to benefit our patients," Friedline said. "Since we entered into the clinical affiliation, we have seen our medical services and capabilities expand, and we expect further expansion in those areas as a result of this management agreement."

Under the terms of the management agreement, David Hess, M.D., president and CEO of WVU Medicine Reynolds Memorial Hospital, will also become CEO of Wetzel County Hospital. Brian Felici, the current CEO of Wetzel County Hospital, will become a northern region consultant to WVU Hospitals.

"It has been my honor and privilege to serve as the CEO of Wetzel County Hospital, and I am looking forward to working with WVU Hospitals to ensuring that the people of Wetzel, Tyler, and Marshall counties have continued access to high quality healthcare," Felici said. "The hospital will be in good hands under Dr. Hess' leadership, and I will be here to help whenever I am needed."

Wright said Felici "is a great guy."

"He has shown great leadership in this process, and we want him to be around incase unforeseen things come up."

Wright said Dr. Hess would split his time "pretty evenly between the two facilities."

Wright did not specifically say whether the management news would mean job creation. However, he noted, "Every time we have increased our relationship with the hospital, the number of employees that work in that hospital always go up."

Wright said it is important for the hospital, as a job creator for its community, to prosper. He noted the hospital is "doing okay today," but applauded the decision of Chair Friedline, hospital board, and commission, for the long-term future of the hospital.

By 2020, Wright hopes to see WVU Health System's electronic medical record installed at WCH. This would allow a patient's labs, x-rays, and other medical information to be accessed at any of WVU Health System's hospitals.

"That is a really big deal," he noted.

Overall, "We are just excited," Wright said of the advancement of WCH and WVU Health System's relationship. "The board of directors, the county commission... we are all excited. I think it's going to be a lot of fun. I think we are going to do a lot of good."



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