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Cabell Huntington Hospital in affiliation talks with St. Mary’s Medical Center

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By JIM ROSS

For The State Journal

The two hospitals in Huntington are in talks about an affiliation. Not a merger, but an affiliation.

“We can confirm that Cabell Huntington Hospital and St. Mary’s Medical Center have had and are continuing discussions toward an affiliation,” Doug Sheils, director of marketing and public relations for Cabell Huntington said Aug. 4. “We expect to provide more details in the near future.”

Spokesmen for St. Mary’s referred inquiries to Cabell Huntington.

The two hospitals have been affiliated before. In the late 1990s, they and Pleasant Valley Hospital in Point Pleasant formed Genesis Hospital System to share administrative and other functions. Genesis dissolved a few years later.

Late last year, Cabell Huntington announced that it would provide administrative services for Pleasant Valley.

Cabell Huntington Hospital is a not-for-profit, regional referral center with 303 staffed beds. Cabell Huntington’s market area is 29 counties in southern West Virginia, eastern Kentucky and southern Ohio. It is a teaching hospital and is affiliated with Marshall University schools of medicine and nursing.

Cabell Huntington opened in 1956 as a county-owned facility. In the 1980s, it moved from county control to private nonprofit status. When the new North Tower at Cabell Huntington opened a few years ago, an older part of the hospital became vacant. A fundraising effort for a new children's hospital began. It was named the Hoops Family Children's Hospital.

St. Mary's Medical Center is the largest medical facility in Huntington, and it is Cabell County's largest private employer, with more than 2,600 employees. It has 393 beds. It describes its market area as 20 counties in West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky.

In recent years, St. Mary's bought a mostly vacant shopping center near its main campus and turned it into the St. Mary's Center for Education. 

"The 58,000 square foot, $10 million dollar facility includes all the teaching and practicum needs of today's health care," St. Mary's says on its website. 

Like Cabell Huntington, St. Mary's is associated with the Joan C. Edwards Marshall University School of Medicine. St. Mary's trains medical residents in several specialties. The hospital campus is home to the St. Mary's School of Nursing, the St. Mary's School of Medical Imaging and the St. Mary’s School of Respiratory Care. All three programs are associated with Marshall.

Cabell Huntington and St. Mary's have been very competitive in marketing to the Huntington Tri-State area. Both hospitals offer acute care, and each is known for certain specialties. St. Mary's is known for cardiac care, diabetes and its Breast Center. Cabell Huntington's specialties are obstetrics, pediatrics (including neonatal intensive care) and its burn unit. Both hospitals have cancer centers, and both boast of orthopedic care.

St. Mary's recently opened a campus in Ironton, Ohio, about 20 miles west of downtown Huntington. The Ironton campus offers a 24/7 emergency department, outpatient lab and imaging services and specialty physicians. St. Mary's was the first hospital to build a facility in Ironton to draw business toward Huntington after the Ironton hospital closed in 2001.

St. Mary's and Cabell Huntington market their services regionally, and they have strong competition from King's Daughters Medical Center in Ashland. To a lesser degree, they also compete with Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital near Russell, Ky. (across the Ohio River from Ironton), and from Southern Ohio Medical Center in Portsmouth, Ohio, about 20 to 25 miles west of Ironton and about 50 miles from Huntington.

According to documents filed with the Internal Revenue Service, in fiscal year 2012, which ended Sept. 30 of that year, St. Mary’s had assets of $326.2 million and net income of about $14.9 million on revenues of $389.8 million. Cabell Huntington had assets of $464.0 million and net income of $25.66 million on revenues of $438.15 million.

On statements filed with the West Virginia Health Care Authority, both hospitals lost money serving patients covered by Medicare and state-sponsored plans, but reported earnings on patients covered by private plans.

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