Over the last few years, the Wetzel County Hospital has been transformed by new management and leadership under the guidance from WVU Medicine. Like other healthcare organizations, it has also overcome great challenges which were faced in the daily challenges presented over the past two and a half year Covid pandemic. With all the changes during a world health crisis behind them, the hospital is moving forward to a bright future serving the Wetzel, Tyler, and Monroe, OH County communities.
In the past year, WVU Medicine Wetzel County Hospital served 55,000 patients through its outpatient services, emergency room, lab, and radiology departments. In-patient, or those who were admitted overnight, numbered 770. The hospital has been serving the community for over one hundred years. At the present time, the hospital employs between 220 and 250 employees. In addition to traditional Primary Care, Emergency Department and General Surgery services, Wetzel County Hospital has expanded patient services to include a new pain management clinic, a sleep study lab and an upgraded cardiopulmonary rehabilitation unit that supports the WVU Heart and Vascular Institute which is also on campus. They are licensed for 56 beds, but at the current time, they utilize 25 beds as part of the hospital’s day-to- day patient care needs. In addition, the hospital offers a specialized program offering skilled nursing and therapy services in the hospital setting as an alternative to receiving these same services at home or in a long-term nursing facility. The “Swing Bed Program” at Wetzel County Hospital is designed for those individuals requiring ongoing medically supervised care after hospital discharge and is individually tailored to meet one’s unique needs.
Sean Smith, WVU Medicine Wetzel County Hospital President, recently explained that the hospital wanted to show its appreciation to the employees for their hard work and dedication especially over the past couple of years. The hospital staff went above and beyond in services to aid the community during the uncertain period of the COVID pandemic. October 6th was set aside to reward the staff with fun events such as a pumpkin decorating contest, a photo booth, lunch, and a radio remote from Power Country .
Sarah Arend, Ambulatory Manager for physician and provider services explained at the present time, the hospital has numerous Physicians and Nurse Practitioners to serve the healthcare needs of the community and many can be seen by local residents with next day appointments She hopes that within a few months, a few more will be added to the primary care offices, adding increased access to care and patient services. Sarah also was excited that the hospital is now offering a new on-site sleep lab to diagnose patients with sleep disorders and explained the benefits of My WVU Chart —-the electronic medical records system exclusive to WVU Medicine is an advantage to local patients because it allows them to be connected to all providers, they utilize within the WVU Medicine healthcare system, here or in other cities.
Lori Chance, Human Resources Manager was very pleased with the positive attitude shown by the staff towards the employee appreciation day. She explained employee positivity is key to helping recruit new staff to the hospital. At the present time, her main goal is to bring additional staff to the lab and radiology department, and reinforced that the employee benefits and in some case sign on bonuses are definitely an advantage for those seeking careers at WVU Medicine Wetzel County Hospital .
Jessica Huffman, MSN, RN, CENP is Assistant Vice President of Clinical Services and has oversight of the nursing teams, quality, staffing and patient outcomes. She explained offering nurse sign on-bonuses and wage adjustments has improved the opportunities for those in the community. She also discussed the opportunity of working with West Virginia Northern Community College and other education centers to build relationships with future students pursuing an education in the medical field. Jessica explained that staffing of any hospital has been a challenge over the last few years and that is a nationwide trend. What used to be typical highs and lows of staffing needs has changed greatly. Today predictability of filling staffing openings has become much more challenging.
The employee appreciation day went well and smiling faces were in abundant supply and not all were on pumpkin faces. The mission for the staff can be overwhelming at times. And a day to be appreciated with activities devoted to the staff goes a long way to ease all the challenges of the job, but it sure was fun for all.
The Wetzel County hospital is the center for emergency needs and routine medical services. Having a local hospital here in the Wetzel/Tyler area has over the years and now more recently with the connection to WVU Medicine, provided much needed access to state of the art healthcare and life saving services for our communities. If the smiling faces were any indication, that quality service will be around for a long time at WVU Medicine Wetzel County Hospital.