ARH Administrator addresses concerns of hospital merger (Editor’s Note: This is the second article of a two-part series)

Rachel Baldwin rbaldwin@civitasmedia.com

October 24, 2013

WILLIAMSON - Tim Hatfield, the Community CEO and Administrator of the S. Williamson Appalachian Regional Hospital (ARH) spoke with the Williamson Daily News to address concerns voiced by the public regarding the merger of his facility with the Williamson Memorial Hospital, which they are in the process of purchasing.

The Health Management Association of Naples, Florida, is the current owner of the local hospital that has been a part of the Tug Valley area for many years.

“With the merger of these two facilities that currently offer duplicate services, we can become a much bigger footprint in the local area and offer a more extensive type of healthcare than what is currently available at either hospital,” stated Hatfield.

“One of the matters I would like to speak on is the statement of WV Delegate Marcum concerning the WV State employees insurance carrier, PEIA, and the fact that ARH is no a participating provider,” said Hatfield. “We have met with PEIA representatives several times in the past to try to resolve this issue but were unsuccessful because they wanted to only utilize hospitals within the State of WV. I believe that once the merger of these two facilities take place, we will be able to establish ourselves as a participating provider for this carrier and be able to serve the needs of those effected.”

Hatfield spoke of the plans of the ARH system to re-purpose the WMH building, and stated that the purchase will also include the former hospital that now serves as physician offices.

“We are currently in negotiations with two “for-profit” entities that will be operating a Behavioural Medicine Health Organization that will include a wide range of psychiatric services,” said Hatfield. “Since these are for-profit businesses, B&O taxes will be paid to the City of Williamson which should help offset the loss of the taxes currently paid by WMH.”

When asked if he felt there would be a problem with serving the needs of patients seeking emergency treatment at ARH once the emergency room at WMH is no longer seeing patients, the administrator explained that with the addition of the After-Hours Clinic at the Medical Mall that is open from 4:30 to 8 p.m. on Monday thru Thursday evenings and the Pediatric After Hours Clinic, he stated that with additional staffing, physicians and renovations, the transition will be a smooth one.

“We have had a wonderful response from the public regarding the After-Hours services,” Hatfield said. “This extends the opportunity for people who work during the day or school-age children who are sick enough to see a physician but are not ill enough to seek emergency care to do so. We have a dedicated staff that works hard to accommodate the needs of the public and addresses their medical needs in a timely and efficient manner.”

Hatfield remarked that in the near future, administration members from ARH plan to hold a series of “Town Hall Meetings” that will be open to the public as well as some that will be reserved for WMH employees.

“We want to be as transparent as we possibly can about the changes that are coming and how it will effect those who are employed at WMH, as well as the public as a whole. We are hiding nothing, everything will be on the table and will be open for discussion.”

“We plan to continue out tradition of treating the local residents with the up-most respect and we want them to know that they continue to be our top concern.”