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Genesis talking with River Valley

Genesis Hospital System and River Valley Health System are talking affiliation but there are no decisions, officials said.

Sunday, December 10, 2000

Genesis Hospital System and River Valley Health System are talking affiliation but there are no decisions, officials said.

"It’s nothing substantial but we are affirming that we have been discussing with River Valley an affiliation with Genesis," said Kathy Cosco, director of public affairs for Genesis.

Ms. Cosco could not offer specific details, other than to say talk has been ongoing for a couple of months.

RVHS chief executive officer Terry Vanderhoof said the dialogue between the hospital and Genesis does not mean a merger.

"As stated before, we are interested in some type of affiliation and we have been having those types of discussions with Genesis," Vanderhoof said. "If it occurred that type of affiliation allows this hospital to retain its autonomy."

Ms. Cosco agreed, adding that an affiliation in its simplest terms means a pooling of resources.

Currently, Cabell Huntington Hospital and St. Mary’s Hospital in Huntington, W.Va., and Pleasant Valley Hospital in Point Pleasant, W.Va., operate under Genesis.

Each hospital has executives and maintains its own board, Ms. Cosco said.

Benefits come when the hospitals join together to make bulk purchases of daily use items at a cheaper rate and when making strategic plans for new services, she said.

For example, the Huntington hospitals teamed up with Genesis to bring in a new mobile PET scanner – a state-of-the-art imaging device that does not use x-rays.

"But the hospitals also report to Genesis," Ms. Cosco said. "The Genesis board has the final approval of the budgets of the hospitals."

Vanderhoof said RVHS officials were impressed with the leadership in Genesis, at the board level, medical staff and other levels.

But affiliation with Genesis remains only a discussion right now, he said.

Vanderhoof would not comment further.

The recent talks come after River Valley announced it faced financial woes.

Earlier this year, hospital leaders said service cutbacks and layoffs were due to revenue loss from federal cuts in Medicare payments and from a downturn in the local economy.

Administrators petitioned Congress for a change in law and, more recently, asked county commissioners for a $500,000 budget-boosting loan. They predicted revenue producing areas of hospital service and "tightening the belt" will improve the hospital’s bottom line.

County commissioners support the hospital and will watch its actions – including that of affiliation – in the months to come, commissioner Bruce Trent said.

The county owns the hospital but by state statute it is governed solely by its board.

"As the commission president, and because I’m familiar with healthcare, I have been involved with the dialogue that is taking place," Trent said.

There is no timeline of when, or if, an RVHS venture with Genesis will take place, he said.

"The commission is dedicated to ensuring quality healthcare continues to be provided at our local hospital," Trent said.