PARKERSBURG - Camden Clark Medical Center's St. Joseph's Campus will close by the end of November, resulting in about 60 employees losing their jobs, hospital officials announced Tuesday.
Consolidation of the Memorial and St. Joseph's campuses was announced in 2012, with the change expected to take effect in the first quarter of 2017.
But on Tuesday, a release from the hospital said that due to declining inpatient volumes, the St. Joseph's Campus would be closed to all inpatients no later than Aug. 15. The former St. Joseph's Hospital will be closed to all other patients by Nov. 30 at the latest.
"With the national, state, and local health care scene changing, so has the demand for inpatient hospital beds and operating rooms," said a Camden Clark release attributed to President and CEO Mike King. "The decline in inpatient demand has been dramatic, especially over the last 12 months.
"So much so that the hospital can now accommodate all inpatient acute care beds and related services (at) the Memorial Campus, nearly two years ahead of the original schedule."
Hospital officials said the professional office building on the St. Joseph's campus will remain open indefinitely to support the patients seeing their physicians located there.
The medical center will also be shutting down its skilled nursing facility, called the Transitional Care Unit, no later than Aug. 1. There are no plans to re-open the TCU unit in the near future, officials said.
Tim Brunicardi, Director of Marketing and Public Affairs for Camden Clark, said there will not be room for the unit at the Memorial Campus.
Since most of the medical center's cardiac services were based at the St. Joseph's Campus, Brunicardi said work is under way at Memorial Campus to accommodate all those services.
"There's a timeline for completion so the services at St. Joseph's will gradually migrate to the Memorial Campus over the next few months," he said.
Because of the accelerated consolidation timeframe, it will be necessary to eliminate positions between the two campuses to eliminate duplication of services, the release said. Approximately 163 positions will be eliminated to prevent duplication of services between the two campuses.
"Of that 8 percent, the majority will be offered jobs within the hospital," King said in the release. "The majority of the eliminated jobs will be in the support, administrative, and management categories. Unfortunately, approximately 60 employees will lose employment with CCMC."
Those employees will come from the dietary, housekeeping, physical therapy, social services, communications, materials management, patient access and billing, imaging, pharmacy, engineering, respiratory therapy and guest relations departments.
Camden Clark will be assisting displaced employees through internal resources and WorkForce West Virginia to facilitate unemployment compensation and job search assistance.
"We deeply regret the loss of jobs in this transition," King said. "However, consolidating all services to one campus is a conscientious and judicious decision and one that represents the best use of hospital resources and strengthens our local hospital for the future of health care.
"Ultimately, moving all services to one campus will be more convenient for our patients and their families and will result in a more efficient, effective, and competitive health care facility."
Parkersburg Mayor Bob Newell said any job loss in the city is cause for concern, but he noted the hospital is hiring in other areas and the consolidation is a necessary step.
"We are also very cognizant of the fact that we have two very large operations that can't be sustained," he said. "This population can't maintain two large facilities like this."
Newell noted Camden Clark is continuing to grow and expand in other areas, so he's not concerned about a lack of capacity as business and perhaps population in the area increase due to oil and natural gas activity. The release notes the hospital is investing $42 million in new facilities.
Cam Huffman, president of the Wood County Development Authority, said they have been working to market the St. Joseph's Campus to anyone who could have a use for a medical care facility since the consolidation was announced.
Discussions have taken place to create short-term housing for an influx of people expected to construct the proposed ethane cracker plant if that project moves forward.
"We are keeping it on the radar," Huffman said. "We are trying to find the best use for that facility.
"Some of the parts of that building are outdated and will need to come down."
Huffman said having that facility was an "opportunity" to create something the area can really use. They will need to find a use that best utilizes the available space and can make use of the existing physical plant.
"The challenge is it is a hospital that was built for a specific purpose," he said. We just need to find the best way to utilize that property."