BLUEFIELD — About 340 Bluefield Regional Medical Center employees will be impacted by the Princeton Community Hospital Board of Directors’ decision to permanently close Bluefield Regional Medical Center's inpatient and ancillary services by July 30.

In a statement released this afternoon, PCH leadership said it is working with state and federal authorities “to open a provider-based emergency department on the BRMC campus.”

“PCH is working through the details and regulations to open this department as soon as possible, along with the necessary ancillary services to support its function, including lab and x-ray,” the statement said. “The associated physician practices will continue to operate through BRMC.”

The closure will impact 340 employees at BRMC and PCH has open positions in different areas of the hospital and encourages displaced workers to apply for positions for which they are qualified.

PCH Board President Rusty Sarver said, “I am deeply saddened by this announcement and I regret that this is the outcome of the acquisition. BRMC has been a pillar of the community for nearly 50 years. It provided quality health care and stable employment for thousands over the decades. Many of the current dedicated employees have been with the hospital for 20, 30, and 40 years. Regrettably, with the volatility of today’s health care environment, our decreasing population, and reductions in federal funding and reimbursements from government and commercial insurers, there are no other viable options.”

PCH CEO Jeffrey E. Lilley stated, “Rural hospitals throughout the United States have struggled in recent years to remain open. It was our hope to change that outcome for BRMC. In the end, the board had to take steps to mitigate the losses and ensure the viability of health care in our region.”

The Board of Directors and administration desire to keep the emergency department with lab and x-ray support operational at BRMC and are working with appropriate agencies in this effort.

PCH purchased BRMC in June 2019.

“We are working closely with PCH leadership as they move forward to develop plans for the future of BRMC,” said Bluefield Mayor Ron Martin. “Rural hospitals struggle under the weight of reimbursement for services that simply do not cover the cost of care. Even before COVID-19, hospitals like BRMC operated on extremely thin margins, and struggled to stay afloat. Elective medical procedures were a key source of revenue, but those were halted under COVID-19 at both PCH and BRMC, putting the hospitals in an extremely difficult financial position. While we are saddened by this decision and by the loss of BRMC as a full-service hospital, we are committed to working with PCH leadership and our state and federal elected officials to find a productive use for that facility to serve the health care needs of our region.”

Contact Charles Boothe at cboothe@bdtonline.com.

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