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'Micro-hospital' being considered after Berwick hospital closure

The Berwick Hospital Center closed suddenly last fall, but there's a new effort to bring emergency care back to the borough.

BERWICK, Pa. — Bette Grey is taking matters into her own hands. 

"We need some kind of medical facility here," she said.

Berwick has been without emergency medical services since the fall.

"I look at the ambulance response time, and I had a personal situation where I waited 40 minutes for an ambulance. Had it been a cardiac arrest or stroke, the person would have been dead. I mean, what people have to remember now is the ambulance delay no longer it's a five-minute trip to this ER."

Grey and a small group of go-getters in the community are working together to make sure that doesn't become the permanent reality.

MJ Moss, a realtor in the area, is one of them. When we asked why she joined Grey's grassroots effort, she didn't hesitate.

"Bette asked me to. Bette's a force of nature, and in Berwick, when Bette asks you, you say 'Sure,'" Moss said.

Here's what the group has come up with so far: A micro-hospital that would have 10 ER beds, 10 inpatient beds, an operating room, and a lab, including radiology and EKG equipment.

"If you look behind me, there's a nuclear power plant. You know, we have a lot of heavy industry. The stories that were told about how this hospital saved lives, I think we just need something," Grey said.

You don't have to look far to find support for the plan. At the first informational meeting, about 100 residents showed up and donated close to $650. The purpose of the meeting wasn't even to raise money.

"Every time there is a need, Berwick has stepped up. It is a can-do, let's get it going, get it done kind of community. It's always responded, and I think it will again," Moss said.

Both women say this community has suffered through a lot in the past year. The sudden closure of the hospital, a fire in Nescopeck that killed ten family members, and the deadly crash at a fundraiser for those fire victims.

They say those last two events are further evidence that the town needs an ER.

The closest ER is in Bloomsburg, about 20 minutes away, and then in Danville, about 30 minutes away.

Bette says building a micro-hospital would realistically take about $30 million and more than two years. She is sending this survey to residents to get their input.

There's another meeting about it at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at St. Mary's church on Fowler Avenue in Berwick. Anyone is welcome.

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