CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – The merger of two of West Virginia’s biggest employers is almost final, and with it will come some big health care changes. Given the unhealthy nature of West Virginia, it’s no surprise that the largest industry in the state is health care.

Earlier this year, the state’s biggest employer WVU Health System announced it was acquiring Thomas Health based in South Charleston and Charleston. The merger will be completed on January 1, 2023.

Saint Francis Hospital in Downtown Charleston will become West Virginia’s first stand-alone orthopedic hospital. One of the reasons for that is the proposed Capitol Sports Complex at the old Macy’s store in the Charleston Town Center mall. With thousands of athletes from around the region coming here for tournaments, the need to treat bone and joint injuries is projected to increase a lot.

“At Saint Francis, it’s going to be neat because we’ll have, we want to create a one-stop shop for not only physicians, but patients. Where we’ll have everything they need there. All of the clinics, the academic offices, the operating rooms,” said Albert Wright, President & CEO WVU Health System.

Once the acquisition is complete, the emergency room at Saint Francis hospital will close and all acute care will be handled at Thomas Hospital and its ER. At that point Saint Francis will handle only orthopedic patients.

And when this deal is all said and done, the combined WVU Health System will employ approximately 13,000 people across the state.