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Is there interest in former RVHS?

County officials overseeing the now-defunct River Valley Health System renewed work this week on a "feasibility study" of the troubled hospital’s future.

Wednesday, October 31, 2001

County officials overseeing the now-defunct River Valley Health System renewed work this week on a "feasibility study" of the troubled hospital’s future.

Commissioners and RVHS Board members met Tuesday morning to discuss legal matters with attorneys, and hash out what step comes next.

"We want to see, for example, if there will be enough business to make it go and we feel like it will," commission president Paul Herrell said.

The group wants Quorum – a hospital management company that has been reviewing the RVHS facility in Ironton – to conduct the study, which will determine if enough interest and/or revenue exists to reopen the hospital.

Because RVHS is in financial receivership, the courts (specifically Judge Everett Burton) must approve the study.

"We wanted experts to come in and objectively look at the situation and we wanted to talk with the commissioners and the hospital board to see what they felt about the next step to approach the judge about," said court-appointed receiver Bob Payne, who also attended Tuesday’s meeting.

Quorum, which works with hundreds of hospitals nationwide and has experience in restructuring financially troubled institutions, will know what can and can’t be done, Payne said.

Herrell agreed, saying all parties concerned would like to know how much work needs to be done at RVHS to at least provide the county with a 24-hour emergency room.

"We hope this will tell us whether we need to go on with it, sell it or what we need to do," Herrell added. "Everybody feels we need it open but the interest has got to be there from doctors and the community, and it needs enough patients."

Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital in Russell, Ky., made an offer recently for the RVHS facility. Although the county has indicated the offer was not enough, Bellefonte has not received written notice, officials said.

Written notice is planned, but Herrell said he didn’t know when that would take place.

At least one other company looks promising, he added.

Representatives of that company visited for about a week to evaluate the building, the community and its possibilities, and "they feel good about it," Herrell said.

They want to consider the idea for 30 days, but in the meantime, the feasibility study is needed, he said.

Quorum, the cheaper and more qualified of three management companies considered, will spend about 60 days evaluating the whole environment around the former River Valley facility, Payne said.

"We’re going to ask the judge to allow us to hire them to do this," he said. "Number one, to see if indeed it is feasible to reopen the hospital, or number two, be able to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that if it’s not feasible then we just quit."