Future of hospital questioned

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 21, 2003

It has been several months since representatives with Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital signed the deal to buy the former River Valley Health System building in Ironton.

Now, at least one county commissioner is expressing concern that the facility remains empty.

Commission President George Patterson said yesterday he wants to listen to the audio tape recorded at that meeting last year, to help him recall specifically what was said about OLBH's plan for the old hospital building. Patterson said he is eager to see the old property used, and to see the county have some kind of health care facility once again.

Email newsletter signup

"Our hopes are that they will proceed with a facility there rather than build or create a new one," Patterson said. "And this was not only the hope of the county commission, but the people of Lawrence County as well. If they change their plans this would upset me and would, I think, upset a lot of other people as well."

Patterson's comments come on the heels of a phone call from Cecil Townsend, the Lawrence County garage manager for the Ohio Department of Transportation. In his phone call, Townsend reportedly asked the commission what to do about the signs along U.S. 52 that direct people to the former hospital. The signs along U.S. 52, although covered, have not been taken down even though a hospital has not been in operation in Ironton in more than two years.

Michael Stautberg, vice president of external affairs of OLBH, could not be reached for comment before press time. In March, he said OLBH is moving ahead with plans to open an urgent care in the Ironton area, but officials are not yet sure how the actual building that once housed the old River Valley Hospital will factor into the plans.