Martins Ferry Mayor John Davies: Support Senior Service levy

MARTINS FERRY — City Council unanimously approved a resolution Wednesday in support of Belmont County Senior Services working with East Ohio Regional Hospital.

The resolution follows a recent announcement by senior services leaders and the Belmont County Board of Commissioners that WVU Medicine Wheeling Hospital would begin providing some services for the county’s senior centers, such as exercise programs and, eventually, laboratory work.

After learning the news, Martins Ferry Mayor John Davies took to social media to voice his displeasure in the announcement, saying the county also should have considered using East Ohio Regional Hospital, which is located in Martins Ferry.

In his initial post regarding the matter, Davies said he did believe it was fair for the county to partner with an out-of-state hospital instead of EORH in Belmont County, especially since local officials worked hard to have it reopened after it being closed for more than a year. EORH was purchased by Dayton-based psychiatrist Dr. John Johnson after being shuttered by Alecto Healthcare Services.

Davies is a member of EORH’s Advisory Committee.

In his social media post, Davies went on to write that people should think “long and hard” about the county’s actions before voting on the senior levy.

“I can not support this levy at this time and believe it should be placed on the ballot at a later time when all information has been released and a fair deal for all local hospitals is achieved.

I would never tell anyone how to vote but do want you to think about it long and hard before voting,” he wrote in the social media post.

Davies said Wednesday, however, that he does in fact support seniors and the senior services levy, and that people should vote for it.

“I want people to vote for the levy,” Davies said, adding he believes people should also contact the county commissioners and ask them to use all local hospitals, not just those in the WVU Medicine system.

“I just want them to do what’s fair and what’s right,” he added.

Following the meeting, EORH legal counsel Mike Garrison said the hospital had not been contacted in the past about partnering with Belmont County Senior Services.

“After consulting with the leadership at EORH, I can confirm that no one from the hospital was contacted regarding providing the scope of care or services to Belmont County Senior Services. EORH first learned of this need and the proposed arrangement with an out of state hospital from media reports last week,” Garrison said.

“Since that time, we have been in contact with Belmont County officials and have learned that there is no formal arrangement or contractual relationship in place. EORH officials have been asked to meet with Belmont County officials and plan to do so in the near future. EORH can and will provide needed services to Belmont County Seniors and we look forward to doing so.”

The resolution approved by Martins Ferry City Council states that EORH is the largest hospital in Belmont County “and has the capacity and ability to provide the same services to Belmont County seniors.”

“The continued growth and success of East Ohio Regional Hospital is critical to meeting the healthcare needs of Belmont County residents,” the resolution notes. “The city of Martins Ferry believes it is in the best interests of the county and its citizens for the county to support a local institution in East Ohio Regional Hospital when considering partnering with healthcare providers.”

Belmont County Commissioner J.P. Dutton said Wednesday that the partnership with senior services and WVU Medicine Wheeling Hospital is not exclusive.

“There’s no contract between Belmont County and West Virginia University, and no money is exchanging hands,” Dutton said. “We’ve worked with a variety of partners, and we’ll continue to work with a variety of partners.”

Commissioner Jerry Echemann added that the partnership is “an extension of a working arrangement that we already have.”

“We do transport to Wheeling Hospital. We’ve worked with them for decades and continue to work with them, but there’s not a signed contract and no levy dollars are being sent over there for this,” Echemann said.

He added that EORH could “help” too.

“We’re more than open to also having East Ohio do some of this stuff too, which basically all it is is coming to the senior centers and doing some screenings on site at their convenience. Making the center a more practical place to go with more practical things going on for their health,” Echemann said.

He added that WVU Medicine Wheeling Hospital has valuable resources.

“We’re going to hope to have East Ohio join in some of these things. We’re not sure how much they can go out physically and do,” Echemann said.

During last week’s announcement at the commission office it was noted the services would not all begin at once, but could include lab services, bone density screenings, mobile MRI units, vision and dental screenings, educational programming about prescription drugs and other topics, partnering with the Howard Long Wellness Center for visits to the facility or programming at the centers, health checkups at centers by a nurse practitioner or physician assistant and more. The county has 10 senior centers in various communities.


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