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Governor praises Panhandle hospitals

October 22, 2005|By DANIEL J. SERNOVITZ

daniels@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.VA.

West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin III praised officials at City Hospital and West Virginia University Hospitals-East on Friday night for seeking to narrow gaps in medical care across the state in advance of the upcoming legislative session in January during which affordable health-care coverage is set to take center stage.

"We're going to change the health and well-being of this state," Manchin said. "It's going to be a great service. We're going to work together. We're going to bring West Virginia together as a state."

Manchin, who took part in a roundtable discussion in Martinsburg on Thursday and celebrated the opening of the Martinsburg Correctional Center earlier on Friday, was the keynote speaker for a dinner attended by about 280 guests marking the conclusion of City Hospital's yearlong centennial celebration.

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Prior to the ceremony, Manchin said he would like to see the state offer a basic package of health benefits to ensure all West Virginia residents will have access to the health-care system. Manchin said at the very least, he wants to ensure the state's residents have annual screenings and access to primary-care physicians instead of deferring medical attention because of cost.

"It's not going to be a Cadillac by any means, but, right now, there's too many people that wait until they have a catastrophic illness to go to the hospital," Manchin said. "There should be some way - and that's my goal - that offers every person some type of entry to health care."

In January, the parent health systems of City Hospital and Jefferson Memorial Hospital merged with West Virginia Hospitals in Morgantown, and among the initiatives to come from that was a residency program at City Hospital.

Dr. Robert D'Alessandri, vice president for health services at West Virginia University, said he believes the Martinsburg hospital now will be a regional draw for physicians looking to stay in the Eastern Panhandle, and their presence will help to ensure the future of the hospital.

"We at West Virginia University are excited to be a part of City Hospital's future," D'Alessandri said.

As part of the event, the hospital exceeded its fundraising goal of $10,000 and, through corporate sponsors and individual donors, raised $22,500 toward the creation of a new outpatient cancer treatment center to be installed within the year on the second floor of City Hospital, hospital spokeswoman Teresa E. McCabe said.

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