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Promising steps

Finally, some good news about local health care was announced on Wednesday.

In the wake of three Ohio Valley hospitals closing their doors within the past six months, Trinity Health System of Steubenville revealed that it is taking steps to stabilize the future of health care in Belmont County. In order to accomplish that, Trinity will continue to operate an outpatient services center in St. Clairsville and open a new clinic in Bellaire.

East Ohio Regional Hospital in Martins Ferry closed on Sept. 27 after its sister facility, Ohio Valley Medical Center in Wheeling, closed on Sept. 4. Their parent company, Irvine, California-based Alecto Healthcare Services, had announced in August that both facilities would close by Oct. 7 due to financial losses. No deal was struck to sell the hospitals or to keep them in operation.

A similar loss occurred in April, when Wheeling Hospital closed its Belmont Community Hospital in Bellaire. In each case, those hospitals had served the community for more than a century. Area residents had relied on those facilities and feared what the future would hold.

In making his announcement Wednesday, Trinity President and CEO Matt Grimshaw said the goal is not to replace the hospitals that closed, but rather to keep people out of the hospital.

“We felt strongly that losing local access to primary care created the potential for a community health crisis, and we thought we should find sustainable solutions to prevent that outcome,” he said.

Thank goodness an organization that was able to recruit qualified physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, therapists and the necessary support staff took action.

When the former EORH Outpatient Center reopens on Oct. 28, it will be known as the Trinity Health System St. Clairsville Medical Plaza. The new clinic at Imperial Plaza in Bellaire is expected to open that same day.

Both locations will provide family practice, internal medicine and pulmonology services – critical access to primary care. Some specialty services, medical imaging, rehabilitation services and lab testing also will be available.

Other local hospitals, including WVU Medicine Barnesville Hospital, Harrison Community Hospital, Wheeling Hospital and WVU Medicine Reynolds Memorial Hospital are stepping up to help meet the need. We commend them for their efforts.

But Trinity has taken a big step to provide Belmont County patients with care they need close to home. Kudos to Trinity for helping to fill the void and put many minds at ease.

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