Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital announced last week it will close by Sept. 30.

Unfortunately, that date is very much in question and finality will likely hit much sooner.

It’s only Jan. 30, and there’s a slew of OLBH employees are casting their lure into the pond and getting bites.

That’s great for that portion of the 1,000-plus employees who will need jobs. They’re taking full advantage of job fairs and meet-and-greets conducted by King’s Daughters Medical Center and other extended-area facilities.

Some have deals in place in which they don’t have to jump ship until OLBH reaches its conclusion.

Soon enough, though, there may be so many on the move that OLBH can’t sustain operations for another eight months.

Closures before projected closure dates happen all the time, which is why the word “by” is used instead of “on.” Not one time have we printed that Bellefonte Hospital will close on Sept. 30. It’s always by Sept. 30, which means it could definitely happen before then.

No Kentucky hospitals closed between January and November 2019, according to Becker Hospital Review, but 29 U.S. hospitals did close during that 11-month period. A good deal of them were half the size of Bellefonte or smaller, which helps put this announcement into proper perspective.

One similar hospital, in comparison to Bellefonte — in size, number of workers and area population — was Ohio Valley Medical Center in Wheeling, West Virginia. In early August, it was announced that it would shutter its doors in 60 to 90 days. Just about 30 days later, the 200-bed hospital was closed, affecting 736 workers, according to wvmetronews.com. This sooner-than-originally-announced situation is a common occurrence.

As if the initial announcement isn’t shocking enough, the final blow lands earlier than expected.

So, brace yourself. It will be a surprise if OLBH hangs on until Sept. 30.

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