Sistersville General Recommends Putting Hospital Out for Bid
SISTERSVILLE — Sistersville General Hospital’s board of directors unanimously recommended to city council members that the hospital be put out for bid.
The board went behind closed doors for about 30 minutes Wednesday. When the board emerged from executive session, members approved a motion to put the hospital up for sale at the advice of legal counsel. There was no discussion on the matter.
“I think this is best for the city and the hospital to move forward and explore our options,” Sistersville Mayor Bill Rice said after the meeting.
Council has scheduled a special meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at city hall to discuss the board’s recommendation for the city-owned hospital.
During Monday’s council meeting, Linda Leasure, Sistersville General board chairwoman, discussed three options the board was considering, including putting the facility out for bid. The others were proposed mergers with West Virginia University Medicine, which recently took over management of Wetzel County Hospital and has indicated an interest in Sistersville General for several months, or with Wheeling Hospital.
Wheeling Hospital has indicated an interest in leaving the hospital’s current level of service the same. It had proposed adding additional services and upgrading the hospital’s 100-year-old building.
After Wednesday’s board meeting, she briefly addressed why members recommended the hospital be put out for bid instead of merging with WVU Medicine or Wheeling Hospital.
“Both parties can still bid. We are not excluding anyone,” she said.
Sistersville General’s interim CEO, Brandon Chadock, said the board’s decision allows hospital officials and city council members to propose requirements in the request for bids “that provides for the best possible outcome for the employees, the city and the health care needs of Tyler County.
“Any interested parties will then be able to review the solicitation and make their offers accordingly. From that point, the council will have the right to refuse any and all bids,” Chadock said.
City leaders and Sistersville General have been involved in discussion in recent weeks about the future of the city-owned hospital. Dozens of people attended a council meeting in September, during which then-Sistersville General CEO John May said due to the nature of health care, rural hospitals are at risk of closing as they struggle with government red tape and finances.
Hospital Chief of Staff Amanda Nichols made a presentation that addressed some of the hospital’s problems.
“Health care has changed dramatically during the past 20 years, the past 10 years, the past five years, even the past two years,” Nichols said during the meeting. “It is forever changing. What causes the fluctuations? Government regulations, insurance reform and especially state Medicaid and Medicare restrictions.”
May cited personal reasons as his reason for resigning in October. His letter of resignation said the hospital faces “severe financial challenges.”
“I wish we could continue along as if nothing has changed, but that is simply unrealistic,” May wrote. “We have to focus on reducing our expenses and increasing revenue. We have already experienced some cuts to expenses, however, we must go further. Each of us should be looking for ways to cut expenses for the hospital and encouraging our patients to use our services.”