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WV governor says he's moving to help shuttering hospital

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice said he's asked his administration to see what it can do to prevent the closure of Ohio Valley Medical Center in Wheeling.

The Republican governor issued a statement Thursday evening saying that saving the hospital's jobs must be a top priority.

The Ohio Valley Medical Center and the East Ohio Regional Hospital in Martins Ferry, Ohio released a statement Wednesday saying they would close within two to three months. The planned closures also come after an unsuccessful search for a buyer.

The hospitals have lost more than $37 million in the last two years due to declining volume and reimbursements, the statement said. It also says they haven't been able to compete with the business practices of nearby Wheeling Hospital, pointing to a federal lawsuit that accuses Wheeling Hospital of defrauding Medicare and Medicaid.

Wheeling Hospital CEO Douglass Harrison has issued a statement saying the closures are disheartening but didn't address the lawsuit.

City officials in Wheeling told The Intelligencer they are also seeing if they could save any part of the hospital, saying it provides critical mental health care services and is one of the city's largest employers.

"Many conversations are taking place at multiple levels right now, with various options being considered. I remain hopeful that a solution that keeps a significant portion of OVMC's medical services running is achievable during the period of time before any closure," Wheeling Mayor Glenn Elliott told the paper.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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