School Closings And Delays

Hospital Banned from Admitting New Patients

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A long-time hospital in Schuylkill County has been banned from admitting new patients.

The ban came down last week from the PA Department of Health, saying violations at the facility posed a significant threat to the health of patients.

Saint Catherine Medical Center has been a part of the Ashland area for nearly 130 years, but Friday, the health department banned the admission of new patients after an investigation into compliance with state license and federal Medicare and Medicaid regulations.

A spokesperson with the health department said, "The department discovered serious deficiencies and violations of applicable regulations that it felt posed a significant threat to the health and safety of the patients at the facility."

Bob Keener has lived across from Saint Catherine for decades.

"It`s wonderful. It`s right across the street. I can walk over for x-rays or blood work or something and be home in a few seconds," said Bob Keener of Butler Township. "It`s extremely convenient. Easy to get to, lots of parking, it`s obviously a local convenience."

Hospital officials said there is currently only one in-patient, but the hospital is continuing emergency services and out-patient testing and procedures.

Patients can choose to be taken to other area hospitals.

"Pottsville`s about 20 minutes, Shamokin is about 20, 25, Geisinger is a half hour," added Keener.

"For the elderly around here. If somebody is really sick, to get all the way to Pottsville is not easy," said Corrine Abrams of Ashland.

According to the hospital`s website, the first patient was admitted to Saint Catherine Medical Center in 1883. Many people who live in the area said they are concerned about the future of the hospital.

"I've been there a couple times for concussions, stitches, and they always treated me fine. I've had no problems with them," said John Steiff of Ashland. "I hope it bounces back. It`s a nice place to have. It`s pretty close and I don`t want to see it go."

There are more than 100 beds at the hospital, but the health department said the hospital does not have proper equipment or supplies to continue to do surgery.

"I hope they work it out so that we still have a medical facility close to us, so that if there is an emergency, we can have access to something," added Abrams.

A spokesperson with the health department said there is no time-frame for the admissions ban.

It can be lifted if the department finds the hospital has submitted an acceptable plan to correct the issues and if no violations are found and the health and safety of patients are not in danger.

Reached for comment, officials at the hospital said they are working through the issues.