Nelsonville Residents React To Doctors Hospital Closing

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With the news of OhioHealth deciding to close Doctors Hospital and replace it with a new urgent care facility, some Nelsonville residents are concerned.

OhioHealth announced Monday that it plans to stop inpatient services before the end of the year at the Nelsonville hospital. A new urgent care facility will be built in Nelsonville by OhioHealth, although a location has yet to be determined. Until the new outpatient facility is opened, Doctors Hospital will continue to offer 24-hour emergency services and other outpatient services.

Nelsonville resident Kenny Tyo told The Athens Messenger that his mother worked at the facility in the 1950s.

“It was a coal miner’s dream to have a hospital close by,” he said. “It used to be run by nuns who were very particular. They made sure things ran correctly.”

Tyo recalled that his mother enjoyed working at the hospital and he said he has sought medical treatment at Doctors several times. He said an urgent care facility would be a positive direction for Nelsonville though.

One Nelsonville woman said that she’s concerned about OhioHealth’s plans to vacate its current facility to construct the urgent care.

“It’s going to be another big empty building in Nelsonville. I’m curious as to what will happen with the building. They said the infrastructure is too poor to continue as a hospital, but I wonder if it is too bad to be used for something else,” she said.

The woman added that there are enough people in Nelsonville and at Hocking College to warrant a 24-hour emergency facility. The new urgent care facility is not planned to be open 24 hours.

Bob Wilson, of Nelsonville, said that Doctors Hospital was an asset to the community and local health care. He said when facing a medical emergency, Doctors Hospital was always his first choice, adding that he recently had several medical tests conducted at the facility.

Wilson said that an urgent care facility is a good move for Nelsonville. He said that insurance companies often don’t pay for expenses in emergency rooms, so that urgent care may be cheaper for residents.

The Athens Messenger also asked its Facebook fans what they thought of OhioHealth’s decision.

Audrey Smathers said that she was “completely saddened” by the news.

“The staff has been completely wonderful to my family throughout the years. Some of the workers will lose their jobs. They are hard workers feeding families,” she wrote.

Kathy VanBibber wrote that she too was sad to hear about the hospital closing.

“Always received the best care there whether inpatient, outpatient, ER or surgery. The staff is the best and the doctors truly care about each and every patient… If OhioHealth truly cared about Nelsonville they would find a way to stay open and continue providing excellent health care here in Nelsonville,” she wrote.

Others wrote that they preferred the emergency room at Doctors Hospital because the wait times were much less than those at OhioHealth O’Bleness Memorial Hospital in Athens.

“This is the only ER that I go to in case of an emergency. I've never had to sit in a waiting room for hours like I have seen (people) do at O'Bleness,” wrote Shana Timberlake.

Alisa Loudner said that closing Doctors Hospital will be “horrible” for Nelsonville.

“I get that inpatient care hasn't been huge in quite a few years but having an ER closer than O'Bleness and (Hocking Valley Community Hospital in Logan) was a good thing. Plus the lab facilities are handy for folks in this area. I actually had a doctor tell me years ago when I had to schedule surgery that while he could do it in Nelsonville or Athens, he preferred Doctors,” she said.

Loudner added that she thinks an urgent care facility should be built in addition to the hospital’s current services.