A hospital serving patients in rural North Central West Virginia has completed the transferring of its sponsorship to United Hospital Center and WVU Medicine, its parent corporation.

Through this partnership, St. Joseph’s Hospital can continue its services without interruption.

“This hospital is too important for Buckhannon,” said Sue Johnson-Phillippe, President and CEO of St. Joseph’s said. “As part of that, you had to think outside the box and think what made the most sense. Who would make the best sense to team up with.”

She added that UHC’s presence in the area and WVU Medicine’s reputation made them the best choice.

Previously, the hospital was sponsored by the Pallottine Missionary Sisters for more than 94 years, but

“The Pallottine Sisters were becoming aged and their numbers few,” Johnson-Phillippe said. “It became evident that we needed to make a sponsorship change.”

The negotiation began roughly two years ago with both parties equally interested in the potential partnership.

“We looked at it for a couple of reason. One is, it’s been a high-quality place that has offered great care for patients in Central West Virginia,” said Christopher Colenda, President and CEO of WVU Medicine. “Secondly, we already had an existing relationship through the fact that physicians from our Department of Emergency Medicine staff the ER here.”

With the new sponsorship taking affect on Oct. 1, Michael Tillman, President of UHC said they are already working to improve services.

“We’ve started to expand our Family Practice residency because recruiting physicians and getting physicians in a rural area is always difficult. Many of the physicians at St. Joseph’s come from the United Hospital Family Practice residency.”

WVU Medicine is currently the parent corporation for UHC, Camden Clark Medical Center, Ruby Memorial Hospital and several other hospitals. Through this partnership, UHC will serve as the parent corporation for St. Joseph’s.