MERCER COUNTY (WVVA) -- The Princeton Community Hospital Board of Directors has made the decision to permanently close Bluefield Regional Medical Center's inpatient and ancillary services by July 30, 2020.
The closure will impact 340 employees at BRMC. However, leaders say PCH has open positions in different areas of the hospital and encourages displaced workers to apply for positions for which they are qualified.
PCH officials attribute the closure to numerous market factors coupled with the unexpected and dramatic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, contributed to the further deterioration of BRMC’s financial situation.
"In addition to declining patient volume and services, most of the patients in our service area are covered by Medicare, Medicaid, or PEIA. Reimbursement from these sources is consistently at a rate far less than the actual cost of caring for the patient," the press release states.
Also according to the release, The Board of Directors and administration "desire to keep the emergency department with lab and x-ray support operational at BRMC and are working with appropriate agencies in this effort."
PCH leadership is "working with state and federal authorities to open a provider-based emergency department on the BRMC campus."
“I am deeply saddened by this announcement and I regret that this is the outcome of the acquisition," said PCH Board President Rusty Sarver. "BRMC has been a pillar of the community for nearly 50 years. It provided quality healthcare and stable employment for thousands over the decades. Many of the current dedicated employees have been with the hospital for 20, 30, and 40 years. Regrettably, with the volatility of today’s healthcare environment, our decreasing population, and reductions in federal funding and reimbursements from government and commercial insurers, there are no other viable options.”
PCH will continue to provide inpatient and emergency services to Mercer County and the surrounding areas.
“We are working closely with PCH leadership as they move forward to develop plans for the future of BRMC," said Bluefield Mayor Ron Martin. "Rural hospitals struggle under the weight of reimbursement for services that simply do not cover the cost of care. Even before COVID-19, hospitals like BRMC operated on extremely thin margins, and struggled to stay afloat. Elective medical procedures were a key source of revenue, but those were halted under COVID-19 at both PCH and BRMC, putting the hospitals in an extremely difficult financial position. While we are saddened by this decision and by the loss of BRMC as a full-service hospital, we are committed to working with PCH leadership and our state and federal elected officials to find a productive use for that facility to serve the health care needs of our region.”
This story is developing. Stick with WVVA as we continue to learn more about the situation.