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Placing the blame where it belongs

Alecto Healthcare officials’ decision to shut down Ohio Valley Medical Center a full month before they had announced previously was bad enough. It was, in a word, wrong.

In suspending health care services, some critical, with just hours’ notice, Alecto made it clear to the community at large and hundreds of employees of the Wheeling hospital that company officials just don’t care about us.

Then Alecto and the owner of OVMC’s buildings, Medical Properties Trust Inc. of Birmingham, Alabama, began throwing stones — at people who have been working feverishly to alleviate suffering caused by the closure.

A statement blamed the closures upon “a lack of interest from potential purchasers” and “an overall lack of response from state officials.”

As our stories have explained, WVU Medicine and Wheeling Hospital have good, responsible plans to fill in the gaps created by the closure. The slam at “potential purchasers” seems to stem from WVU Medicine’s offer to lease some facilities at OVMC for one year. That proposal was rejected because it was not an offer to buy a property of questionable long-term value.

As far as “lack of response” from public officials, that, too, was an undeserved slap in the face to people who have been trying to minimize the damage caused by Alecto’s decision.

It is well known that when the California firm bought OVMC two years ago, Wheeling officials did all in their power to help Alecto financially. And, from Gov. Jim Justice to U.S. Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., officials at other levels have done all they could to help.

At one time, we would have avoided getting in the middle of a controversy between OVMC and Wheeling Hospital, because local people doing what they thought was right for their community were involved. That is no longer the case. The situation now is local people trying to resolve a problem created by big business interests from outside our state — and their attitude stinks.

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