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From George Friedline

By Staff | Mar 1, 2017

An open letter to the Editor,

I would like to tell you a true story and say “THANKS WVU!”

It was a sad day at the Wetzel County Hospital.

The oldest, and perhaps most used, piece of equipment in the entire hospital just up and died. X-Ray One had its episodes in the past. It had ground to a halt many times during the years, but always someone found spare parts, and on occasion duct tape or surgical tape, to patch it up and revive it. But this time there were no spare parts, nobody made them, and the inventory shelves were empty. X-ray One had outlived its support network. Tape and ingenuity weren’t enough this time.

X-Ray One was dead… Completely and irrevocably dead… Kaput.

Yes, X-ray Two was alive and well. But it would have to do double duty, and the little waiting room would fill up with inpatient patients. And what if the strain on X-Ray two was too much and it had to go down for repairs? What to do? What to do?

Well, of course, the caretakers of the X-Ray machines knew what to do… Go out and buy a replacement. And they knew the names and addresses of the most the quality manufacturers. So they went out and asked for quotes for a replacement, from seven different manufacturers.

Then… Sticker Shock…. Prices have gone up in the last 25 years. The quotes came back in the order of a half million dollars each. Well, that would be an awful blow to the Wetzel County Hospital who was in the process of paying off four million dollars of bonds and receiving only 17 cents on the dollar reimbursement for Medicaid patient costs.

What to do? Perhaps they could find a gently used unit. We keep getting news of small hospitals being closed because they cannot financially keep up with the changing healthcare environment. The inquiries went out and the quotes came back. Seems like there is a lively market for used medical equipment and the prices were only 20 percent lower than new equipment, that is, for very gentle used and refurbished units. This was still an overwhelming challenge.

Someone made a call to West Virginia University Hospitals asking if they were considering replacing an X-Ray unit that might be serviceable. The WVU person was kind, but he could only respond, “I’ll ask around and see.” That seemed to be at an end for several weeks.

Then a call came back… “Good Friends of Wetzel County, I have something that could possibly be a hope for you. WVU is in the process of installing a first-class new X-Ray machine in the medical section of our football stadium for the use of our team medical staff. It is about to be delivered in the next month or so. Timing is not critical for us, so if you want it, we can order another and give you this one for our cost. Due to being as system of 9 hospitals, we get a major discount. You can have it for $300,000.”

What a relief! Somehow we can find, borrow, and solicit the $300,000 for a first class, state of the art, X-Ray. We should always give thanks for gifts from Heaven (or even Morgantown). As you read this, work has already started in order to install our new baby, X-Ray Three.

We’re sure that you have heard a song that starts:

“It’s West Virginia, It’s West Virginia, the pride of every Mountaineer.”

We are believers!

George Friedline