PARKERSBURG - It was a day of coming together Tuesday as Parkersburg's two hospitals were officially joined under one entity and became a regional medical center.
Community leaders, hospital officials, employees and the public came together at both Camden-Clark Memorial Hospital and St. Joseph's Hospital for the unveiling and dedication of the new Camden Clark Medical Center with its Memorial Campus and St. Joseph's Campus.
Last September, officials with West Virginia United Health System (WVUHS) announced their intent to purchase St. Joseph's while affiliating with Camden-Clark, bringing both together under one organization. The merger officially went into effect at midnight Monday.
"We have plenty of reason to rejoice today, because today the people from our community, from our St. Joseph's Campus, from our Memorial Campus and from West Virginia United Health System have gathered to enter into a new era of health care with a new medical center with a new look," said Mike King, the CEO over the newly formed Camden Clark Medical Center. "For decades, residents of this valley have asked over and over, 'Shouldn't our two hospitals work together?"
"Today, I have the pleasure to give that answer in the affirmative."
The documentation has been finished and the bureaucratic hurdles have been overcome to join both hospitals into one medical center, King said to the many people who gathered outside the North Tower of the newly designated Memorial Campus and to about 150 administrators and employees of the new St. Joseph's Campus who gathered on the front lawn of that facility Tuesday afternoon, watching the announcement on a pair of big-screen televisions.
"We are going from being an area with two community hospitals to a city with one two-campus medical center affiliated with the state's largest health care system," King said. "It not only positions us well for the changes and challenges coming in health care, but it brings much needed stability to both St. Joseph's and Camden-Clark."
King spoke of the many challenges facing health care and how combining the two local hospitals will position this area in dealing with them and improve the efficiencies of their operations and provide a secure future for their employees. Joining with WVUHS will allow them to expand and enhance their services, he said.
"This is a better way," King said of the two hospitals joining together. "It is true we will see some changes as we work together to make a stronger medical center, but one thing will never change, our undying commitment to seek the highest quality care for our patients and their families."
Larry Mallory, chairman of the Board of Directors of Camden Clark, said the merger process has been a labor of love that finally came to fruition.
"With our joining of (WVUHS) we are now one health care facility, no longer standing alone and providing for the health needs in our community," he said.
Tom Jones, president and CEO of WVUHS, said there will be opportunities to bring in new services, along with education and research at the new facility.
"As I look back at the challenges we faced, it has been well worth the effort," he said. At the end of the ceremony, at both hospitals banners were unfurled and flags were raised announcing the Camden Clark Medical Center.