BERWICK, Pa. — A sign on the emergency room entrance reads closed at Berwick Hospital Center.
"I think it's a shame. I really do there are a lot of people who depend on the Berwick hospital," said Keith Knight, Mifflin.
The sign at the hospital owned by Priyam Sharma directs patients to go to the Geisinger Hospital in Bloomsburg or Lehigh Valley Hospital Hazleton, which residents say is too far to travel during an emergency.
"The closest ER is Bloomsburg. What are we supposed to do if someone gets hurt," said Tanayah Pettaway, Berwick.
"If there is an actual emergency, people are going to have to travel a lot further than they have to, and they might not have the life span to do it, and that's the long short of it," said Knight.
The hospital has been at the center of controversy since its owners announced plans to close the facility and turn it into a psychiatric hospital earlier this year.
The original date of the closure came sooner than expected, leaving residents worried for themselves and the community.
"It's horrible. Somebody could die. They should have never closed it. My father-in-law was there for a heart attack years ago; thank god he was there because he could have been dead by the time he got to Bloomsburg," said Susan Huber, Berwick.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health announced the abrupt closure due to a lack of appropriate staffing to cover the emergency room.
Other residents say they're not saddened by the closure after their own personal experiences.
"I was relieved. I wouldn't want someone going there for emergency care and be let down. They didn't have the best treatment, they had labs that were close by, and that was convenient, but that was about all the good that came out of there," said Matthew Davis, Berwick.
Berwick Hospital Center will continue to offer other services until closing on October 13. The emergency department closure will not affect admissions at the hospital's behavioral health unit.
Check out WNEP’s YouTube channel.