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OLBH to close operations by September: Hospital employs around 1,200 people

After six decades, Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital will be closing all of its operations by the end of September.

The announcement came Tuesday morning from Bon Secours Health System, which operates OLBH, that it would “be exiting acute and outpatient care in the Ashland and Tri-State communities by the end of September 2020, resulting in the closure of Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital (OLBH), system-owned care sites and its physician network, Bellefonte Physician Services.” That would include Ironton OLBH Urgent Care in Ironton.

OLBH employs around 1,200 people.

The hospital said that care will continue as normal until its closing.

“We take the responsibility that comes with this decision very seriously, and we do not go into it lightly,” said Jason Asic, OLBH interim president. “We commit to working closely with our associates to share timely and transparent information, especially as it relates to the transition of services and employment opportunities and career fairs.”

Asic said the hospital will work diligently to ensure opportunities across the ministry are made available, and will work closely with area employers to identify opportunities close to home. In addition, the hospital is establishing partnerships across the Tri-State to help employees who may want to explore a different career.

The hospital said its health providers will work with their patients to ensure a smooth continuity of care and more information will be provided in the coming months.

“While this transition is underway, we will continue to serve our patients with compassion and dignity, and we remain focused on our founding congregations’ steadfast commitment to ensuring that compassionate care is available for each of our patients, communities and associates — especially in times of need,” Asic said. “We are exploring additional ways that we can support our community’s needs going forward.”

Bon Secours Mercy Health provides nearly $2 million per day in community benefit across all the markets in which they do business.

Kristie Whitlatch, president/CEO, of King’s Daughters Medical Center released a statement on Tuesday afternoon on the closing of OLBH.

“King’s Daughters and Our Lady of Bellefonte hospitals have served eastern Kentucky and southern Ohio for a very long time and we are deeply saddened by the news. Their employees, physicians and volunteers are our friends, relatives, and neighbors,” she said. “King’s Daughters will work with Our Lady of Bellefonte, its leadership, and team to find any and all opportunities to keep jobs and healthcare local.”

She added that the KDMC will provide more information related to both very soon.

“Making sure our community has access to quality healthcare services now and in the future is our number one priority,” she said.

Lawrence County Sheriff Jeff Lawless also commented on the closing of OLBH in a Facebook post.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the employees of Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital. The devastating news that the hospital is closing is a shock to the entire Tri-State,” he said. “Please join me praying that this decision can be reversed, and that every person effected by this upcoming shutdown will find employment soon.”

OLBH was built in 1953 by Franciscan Sisters of the Poor, with 92 beds and 44 bassinets. Since then it has grown into 214-bed hospital with 1,200 member staff.

Bon Secours bought the hospital in 2000, after the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor Health System disbanded. In 2018, the Maryland-based Bon Secours Health System merged with the Cincinnati-based Mercy Health.