RUSSELL, Ky. (KT) – A hospital in northeastern Kentucky will be closing its doors at the end of September.
Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital, a fixture in Russell since 1953, is shutting down and approximately 1,000 employees will be affected.
The hospital, its system-owned care sites and Bellefonte Physician Services, its physician network, will close as a result. There are no immediate job cuts, according to OLBH.
“We take the responsibility that comes with this decision very seriously, and we do not go into it lightly,” said Jason Asic, OLBH’s interim president. “We commit to working closely without associates to share timely and transparent information, especially as it relates to the transition of services and employment opportunities and career fairs. We’ll work diligently to ensure opportunities across the ministry are made available, and we will work closely with area employers to identify opportunities close to home. In addition, we are establishing partnerships across the Tri-State to help those who may want to explore a different career.”
According to the release, the decision follows a deliberate and thorough discernment process conducted by the executive leadership team, the ministry’s Board of Directors and its public juridic person – the health care system’s sponsoring organization which oversees the system’s mission and ensures it is carried out according to Catholic principles.
The release states, providers will work with their patients individually to ensure a smooth continuity of care, and more information will be provided in the coming months. In the interim, care will continue as normal.
The announcement that Bellefonte hospital is closing is devastating news for our community,” said Rep. Dan Bentley, R-Russell. “We have so many critical health care needs that are best met by a local facility.”
Bentley is a Russell pharmacist and highly respected advocate for access to quality health care.
“I served as a volunteer hospital board member for nine years under its previous ownership and I have seen firsthand the impact this facility makes on Greenup County. My greatest fear is that if we can’t find a way to prevent it from closing, we will never see it reopen.
“I have called upon Governor (Andy) Beshear’s office to work with me and our local officials to do all we can to keep the doors open and the people of this community served.”
“While this transition is underway, we will continue to serve our patients with compassion and dignity, and we remain focused on our founding congregations’ steadfast commitment to ensuring that compassionate care is available for each of our patients, communities and associates – especially in times of need. We are exploring additional ways that we can support our community’s needs going forward,” Asic said.
King's Daughters Medical Center in Ashland is the largest hospital in the area. President and CEO Kristie Whitlatch offered the following statement:
“King’s Daughters and Our Lady of Bellefonte hospitals have served eastern Kentucky and southern Ohio for a very long time and we are deeply saddened by the news,” she said. “Their employees, physicians and volunteers are our friends, relatives and neighbors. King’s Daughters will work with Our Lady of Bellefonte, its leadership, and team to find any and all opportunities to keep jobs and healthcare local. We will provide more information related to both very soon. Making sure our community has access to quality healthcare services now and in the future is our number one priority.”
Hospitals in nearby West Virginia and Ohio will be having a job fairs in the area soon for displaced OLBH employees.