Hospital needs support

Published 9:57 am Thursday, March 10, 2016

About 20 years ago Lawrence County lost its only hospital when River Valley, once known as Lawrence County General Hospital, shut down. Located in Ironton, it had served the county for decades until financial problems sent it south.

About four years ago, a collaboration between St. Mary’s Medical Center in Huntington and the Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization brought a new $18 million facility to the county — St Mary’s-Ironton Campus. The idea was to open a center that offered emergency room and lab services as well as a place for family physician offices.

If enough community support existed for those services, there was a good possibility that a full-service hospital would be added. At this time, what is needed is the support county showing it wants such a facility.

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However, if the number of runs by the county EMS is any gauge, that doesn’t look as if it will happen.

Over the past year, runs to the Ironton Campus are the lowest of the five main hospitals that serve the Tri-State. The percentages barely gets close to 10 percent.

We understand that those living in the eastern end will be transported to one of the two Huntington hospitals.

But anyone living from Hanging Rock to South Point has the choice of King’s Daughters Medical Center, Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital and the Ironton Campus.

If a patient is in a life-threatening situation, the nearest hospital is the destination by the EMS. Otherwise it is basically patient choice.

In all, as a county and region, we are fortunate to have several quality options for emergency and health care. However, if we want to continue to keep the emergency facility in Ironton, we need to support it. Otherwise, we won’t be in any position to complain if that option goes away again.