It’s coming

Published 1:29 pm Wednesday, September 17, 2008

By Rick Greene

The Ironton Tribune

IRONTON — Community leaders are expected to gather Wednesday to announce a medical facility will be built in Ironton, The Tribune has learned.

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Ironton City Council and the Lawrence County Commission have called special meetings for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the intersection of U.S. 52 and State Route 141 near the foot of the Indian Hills subdivision. The purpose of the meetings is to discuss economic development.

Representatives from St. Mary’s Medical Center, Lawrence County’s Healthcare Future LLC, the Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization and the Lawrence County Commission are also expected to attend.

Ironton Mayor Rich Blankenship said a resolution is being proposed to support a medical facility “within the city limits.”

It is expected to be announced that the facility will be built on 20 acres of land along State Route 141. The project is expected to be two phases, the first of which will include at least an imaging center and surgery suite.

Ralph Kline, community development director for the CAO, deferred comment until Wednesday’s announcement.

Doug Korstanje, director of marketing and community relations for St. Mary’s, was not immediately available for comment.

Lawrence County Commission President Doug Malone declined to discuss specifics, but said Wednesday has been a day five years in the making.

“This is a very important day (Wednesday) for Lawrence County and its residents,” he said. “And hopefully, it’s the beginning of good things to come.”

In November of 2007, St. Mary’s announced the formation of Lawrence County’s Healthcare Future LLC, a consortium of the Huntington, W.Va.-based hospital, the CAO, a group of physicians and business leaders.

The goal of the group was to “improve health care in Lawrence County.” It was announced the group would explore all options, including the possibility of building a hospital.

Wednesday’s meeting comes more than seven years after the closing of the former River Valley Hospital, which closed its doors because of severe financial difficulties that came as a result of mismanagement.