UPDATE 10/10/13 @ 9 a.m.
WILLIAMSON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A hospital in southern West Virginia is making plans to expand, but it's causing some concern for one city.
Appalachian Regional Hospital has signed an agreement to buy Williamson Memorial Hospital. ARH is planning to not only buy the 76 bed hospital, but five physician practices owned by Williamson Memorial.
The hospital's sale is causing some major outrage in Williamson. Dozens of people who live and work in the city packed Wednesday night's council meeting to voice their concerns.
The non-profit group that's buying the hospital would not have to pay B&O taxes. The mayor says that would wreck havoc on the budget. Also, many employees are afraid they'll lose their jobs.
"We have had deaths together, births together, we've gone through weddings together. When one person hurts in our facility, the whole family as a unit hurts, Joanne Cunningham, Williamson Memorial Nurse said."
The fear is ARH is merely making the deal to eliminate competition and it'll be worse in the long run for healthcare in the area, according to community members who attended the meeting.
County and city officials say they're working on how to prevent the acquisition.
The sale is expected to be finalized in February.
ARH not only plans to buy the 76-bed hospital, but five physician practices owned by Williamson Memorial.
They expect the sale to be finalized by February 2014.
Joe Grossman, ARH's president, says that buying Williamson Memorial will bring full access to the best healthcare services possible in the Tug Valley.
"We count ourselves fortunate that we have such a high quality healthcare community in the Tug Valley, from physicians to nurses to other caregivers and staff," Grossman says of not only ARH Hospitals and Williamson Memorial Hospital, but of the entire community.
ARH currently has a hospital in South Williamson, Ky.
The sale caused outrage in Williamson where several residents gathered Wednesday night at a packed City Council meeting. Many voiced their concerns.
The Williamson mayor said because the non-profit group buying the hospital would not have to pay B&O taxes, he says it would wreck havoc on the budget.
Also, many employees expressed concern that they could lose their jobs.
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