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A good deal for Eastern Ohio

It is always refreshing to see groups of people working together for the common good.

That appears to be what has happened in Martins Ferry in recent months. There, city leaders have worked long and hard to help attract a buyer for East Ohio Regional Hospital — and to make it possible for that buyer to turn the facility back into a successful operation.

On Wednesday, Martins Ferry City Council unanimously approved an ordinance to give some income tax proceeds back to EORH.

An agreement between the hospital and the city states that the city will return to EORH 75 percent of the money generated by the city’s 1 percent income tax on the hospital’s employees. The deal will remain in place for 10 years.

People who live or work in Martins Ferry are required to pay 1 percent of their income to the city. It is the city’s largest source of revenue, usually accounting for more than $1 million a year.

But since the hospital’s closure last fall by Alecto Healthcare Services of California (which also closed Ohio Valley Medical Center in Wheeling at about the same time), the amount of money generated by the income tax has fallen.

Attorney David Croft, representing the hospital and new owner Dr. John Johnson, said the agreement will help facility officials show they have community support as they seek other sources of funding to help get the operation up and running.

“There’s nothing easy about opening a hospital that was closed, but Martins Ferry as a city was very responsible (in the agreement). They made sure we were putting that into the building. That we would have an emergency room. That we would have a lab. That we would have radiology. That we would have operating rooms. So it wasn’t just giving Dr. Johnson a blank check,” Croft said.

For his part, Johnson said he is impressed with the city and its people.

“I met with a lot of people in the process. Every one of them has been extremely supportive and well-wishers of having this hospital opened. And I’m thankful to the community,” Johnson said.

Croft noted the hospital still is working toward getting various licenses OK’d, but they are “optimistic we’ll have a functioning hospital soon.” That would be great news for the city and the surrounding community.

Council was right to approve the deal. Eastern Ohio needs another hospital, and it seems that even though some income tax proceeds will be returned to the facility, bringing more jobs and people to the community will help to add money to the city’s coffers as well.

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