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Protesting for better health care in Luzerne County

Protestors showed up not just to represent the patients and workers at First Hospital, but also the other health care facilities being closed around the region.

LUZERNE COUNTY, Pa. — Outside the First Hospital, protesters like Esther Crook from Nanticoke came out to make their voices heard. Esther thinks the health care industry is shutting out more patients than it's letting in.

"This is the only place that I knew to come to get myself back together, you understand, and now they are taking the only place we have to get ourselves together."

Members of Put People First, a self-described non-violent Medicaid army, strung up 36 pillow cases along Wyoming Avenue.

Protester Jessica Boyles says each pillowcase represents ten of the hospital beds lost in the region due to hospital closures.

"We are mobilizing around the fact that so many hospitals are being affected; this region is losing 361 hospital beds, and about 100 or so are here at the psychiatric hospital, which also happens to be the only psychiatric hospital in the entire northeast PA region," Boyles said.

For Fern Leard of Dallas Township, she's not just fighting for herself but for her son, who lives with autism.

"You fight, and you fight for all of these services, and in the meantime, your kid is the one who suffers because they are going without what they need, and as hard as you fight, it doesn't matter because someone else is controlling the line and all you can do is wait," Leard added.

Newswatch 16 reached out to Commonwealth Health regarding the protest, a spokesperson said the hospital has no comment.

First Hospital is still scheduled to close at the end of October.

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