ELKINS -- Tucker County residents upset about reduced hours at the Tucker Community Care facility in Parsons attended the regular monthly meeting of the Board of Trustees of Davis Health System to voice their concerns.
"We want you to look at Tucker County Community Care as an integral part of your health care system," Tucker County Commission President Sam Eichelberger told the gathered board members. "I want each of you to ask yourselves, do we take oaths as doctors to put a life above money? There are people walking around out there who wouldn't be here to be on your backs if that facility wasn't there, because they'd be dead."
The residents attended the meeting Thursday because Davis Health System decided to reduce the operating hours of the clinic April 1. Tucker Community Care originally was a 24-hour facility, but now closes between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.
"Who in this room, when we lose a loved one at midnight because they couldn't make it to (Davis Memorial Hospital in Elkins), who among you is going to look at our people and say we know you just lost a mother, a brother, a baby, but we saved money?" Eichelberger asked.
The decision was made to reduce the hours at the facility because research conducted by Davis Health System indicated the facility was underused at night, said Tracy Fath, spokeswoman for the hospital. The company lost about $500,000 on the Tucker County clinic last year, she said.
Even with the reduced hours, Davis Health System is projecting a loss of $250,000 this year, she said.
More than 50 residents made the trip from Tucker County to support the speakers, who represented several agencies. The board allowed just five minutes per speaker, and no questions were asked during or after the presentations.
Officials of Davis Health System had no comment about questions raised by the speakers Thursday.
Also speaking to the board were Linda Gray, representing Tucker County Emergency Services; Laura Sue Pollock, a Parsons businesswoman and mayoral candidate; Roxanne Nestor, director of Tucker County Senior Citizens Inc.; Doris Bonner, secretary of the Tucker County Concerned Citizen's Coalition; and Dan Bucher, administrator of Cortland Acres Nursing Home.
"The mission of this hospital is to take care of the citizens in the communities we serve and Tucker County is on top of that list," said board Chairman L.T. Williams prior to the residents' presentations. "We'll listen to what you have to say and get back with you."
Regional writer James Fisher can be reached at 626-1446.