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Community meeting to save Berwick Hospital Center

The community asked for help at a meeting Monday night to discuss how to keep the center open.

BERWICK, Pa. — Residents of the Berwick area and employees of Berwick Hospital Center are still searching for answers a little more than a week after the owner of the hospital shut down clinics and announced plans to close the hospital itself

On Monday night, many of those residents and employees asked Berwick Borough Council for help.

Save our community hospital. Signs were posted on streets throughout Berwick, similar to those carried by employees and community members gathered at a Berwick Borough Council meeting. 

Among them is Lab Technician Kathy Curtain. Though she's worked at Berwick Hospital Center for more than 30 years, she says she had no warning the hospital was closing.

"There was a lot of tears that day. In fact, I only found out by watching Channel 16 as I was getting dressed in the morning. It's vital to the health and safety of our whole community," said Kathy Curtin, Lab Technician, Berwick Hospital Center.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health confirms hospital owner Priyam Sharma plans to close the hospital and turn it into a psychiatric facility. The next closest hospital is twenty minutes away.

"Let's face it, there is a big difference. Hospital, psych wards," said Beverly Moore, Nurse, Berwick Hospital Center.

The borough council acknowledged the closing's impact.

"From a legal standpoint, she still has the right to run her business the way that she sees fit," said Damien Scoblink, Berwick Borough Manager.

Still, residents and hospital workers asked for their help in finding a solution.

"Maybe start a petition, maybe talk to people higher up in the government," said Amy Miller, Hospital Union.

Nescopeck Mayor Larry Messina told the council the closure could have far-reaching implications for the area.

"They're gonna drive by the school, then they're going to see an empty hospital. Are they going to come to Berwick for their business? No. They're going to go somewhere else," said Larry Messina, Mayor of Nescopeck.

Columbia County Commissioner David Kovach pledged to advocate for a new facility.

"Hopefully, we can make some sense out of this. Find some people that want to take it over, buy it and improve it," said David Kovach, Columbia County Commissioner.

Again the borough council admitted there's really nothing it can do from a legal standpoint to stop this closure from happening, but the community is still determined to fight it, hoping that the facility will remain a hospital.

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