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Huntington hospitals consider merging

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A day after saying the hospitals were considering an “affiliation,” officials at Cabell Huntington Hospital now say they are considering acquiring St. Mary’s Medical Center.

The two Huntington hospitals have started the initial steps of coming together, which could take an extended amount of time, according to a joint statement from the hospitals.

The organizations believe combining would benefit the community, according to the Tuesday statement.

“We are extremely excited about the potential of a close working relationship with St. Mary’s Medical Center, as we see this critical to delivering the highest quality care in the most cost effective and efficient manner,” said Cabell Huntington Hospital CEO Brent Marsteller. “In the meantime, we will continue to operate both hospitals independently.”

The statement from the hospitals did not include specific plans about the potential acquisition or a time line of when the acquisition would be complete. Officials at both hospitals declined to comment beyond the statement.

The Pallottine Sisters, which have worked with St. Mary for 90 years, will end their sponsorship of the hospital, St. Mary’s CEO Michael Sellards said in the statement.

“Health-care reform has caused hospitals throughout the nation to look at ways to meet the future challenge of health care,” he said. “In addition, with the changing climate of health care and fewer Sisters to oversee our health-care ministries, the Pallottine Missionary Sisters made the decision to end their sponsorship of St. Mary’s Medical Center.

“We are pleased to explore a partnership with Cabell Huntington Hospital as we believe that by combining our complementary strengths, we can both significantly improve our ability to meet the health-care needs of the region, and provide better care more efficiently,” Sellards said.

Cabell Huntington has about 303 beds and employs about 2,300 people. St. Mary’s is Cabell County’s largest employer, with more than 2,600 employees and 393 beds.

As of Tuesday, the West Virginia Healthcare Authority had not received an application for a Certificate of Need from Cabell Huntington Hospital or St. Mary’s Medical Center for such an acquisition.

St. Mary’s and Cabell Huntington rank eighth and 12th, respectively, on a 2013 Workforce West Virginia list of the state’s largest private employers.

Reach Caitlin Cook at, 304-348-5113 or follow @caitlincookWV on Twitter.

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