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Ruling on hospital could come in March

Consultants are still surveying what it will take to reopen Ironton’s defunct hospital facility, officials said.

Sunday, January 27, 2002

Consultants are still surveying what it will take to reopen Ironton’s defunct hospital facility, officials said.

"March 15 is our next meeting with the judge and they think they can have it done by then," said CPA Bob Payne, court-appointed receiver of the former River Valley Health System.

Quorum Health Group Inc., which owns and operates acute care hospitals and local and regional healthcare systems nationwide, has been in town doing the court-ordered "viability study."

That study then must be considered by Judge Everett Burton, Payne said.

The study will spell out whether or not reopening the hospital can be done, how it might be achieved and answer questions of not only the county but also its citizens. Everybody wants a hospital but the goal of the receivership, which is governed by the court, is to find the best way to do it for creditors and future healthcare users, officials have said.

There’s no way to judge how it looks so far – in other words, how favorable or not favorable it would be to reopen the hospital – but local officials asked Quorum up front to point out immediately if something obvious points one way or another, Payne said.

"They haven’t called me to say this is ridiculous," he said, pointing out that adds hope.

"We’re going to present a report and recommend what we think is in the best interest of the creditors and the community and go from there."

Judge Burton has final say on those plans, he added.

Late last year, county officials met discussed hospital proposals from several companies, while a stalemate over an offer from Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital continued.

The county labeled Bellefonte’s offer as not enough, hinting it would not cover priority debts.

OLBH leaders called its offer to purchase the River Valley facility as extremely generous, and hinted it could develop a healthcare center at another location in the Ironton area.

META Associates Inc., a group of engineers that have experience with hospitals, has reported to the county about startup needs and costs.

The company estimated that it would take $700,000 to $800,000 for the first six to eight months, and suggested over the next five years that a company would need to invest about $6.8 million in the facility.