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OLBH close to revealing Ironton plans

RUSSELL, Ky.

Wednesday, June 20, 2001

RUSSELL, Ky. – Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital leaders came closer this week to announcing what healthcare steps they will take in the City of Ironton.

"Our consultant group has given us a preliminary report now, and we are currently in the process of reviewing it," spokesperson Kevin Compton said.

For some time, Bellefonte has had its team of experts reviewing ideas for healthcare service in Ironton. That team will report back to OLBH’s board of directors.

Compton said he could not release details of the preliminary report.

"It’s not even a final report," he said. "We’re not holding to a timeline, either."

Still, a decision could be made "before too long," Compton added.

Lawrence County officials have alluded that Bellefonte would be a welcome addition in Ironton since the closure of River Valley Health System.

Also, county negotiations for use of the former hospital have been ongoing; and Bellefonte leaders say they have looked at the RVHS building.

However, no announcements have been made.

Mike Stautberg, OLBH director of external affairs said recently that the RVHS facility is one option; and the team of experts reviewing ideas may come up with five to six other options.

Compton said Bellefonte is taking seriously its look-see into providing healthcare within Ironton, but does not want to raise any false hopes.

"We’re looking to serve (Ironton) the best way we possibly can, but it must be feasible for both," he said.

Bellefonte will take the advice of its consultants very seriously, and there will be an announcement when a decision is made, Compton said.

Meanwhile, the county has taken steps to ensure a say in what happens with the RVHS facility, which owes millions to the federal government on loans and Medicare overcharges.

Commissioners created an advisory board May 31 that will represent the county on any current and future negotiations, as well as offer suggestions to RVHS’s court-appointed receiver, CPA Robert Payne, who is seeking those negotiations.

Still, with the former hospital in receivership, which is similar to a bankruptcy, any deals must pass the muster of Lawrence County Common Pleas Court.