Schuylkill Hospital Remains Closed

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The future of a hospital in Schuylkill County remains in more doubt after the PA  Department of Health came took drastic action last week.

The state force St.Catherine Medical Center near Ashland to stop taking in new patients, shut down it's emergency room, and stop all out-patient services.

St.Catherine then laid off 150 of its 200 workers, and, in effect, may be telling them to find other jobs.

The names of those laid off have been sent to the Pennsylvania CareerLink Offices in Pottsville, where they will get help finding new work and filing for unemployment benefits.

"They contacted us regarding any kind of assistance we could provide to their employees," said CareerLink Office Manager Sharon Angelo.

When Newswatch 16 asked if it means St.Catherine doesn't appear to be planning to reopen the hospital, Angelo replied, "It doesn`t sound like it from what we're hearing right now, but you never know.  Hopefully in the future maybe."

The present at St. Catherine is a hospital without patients, locked up, with signs pointing potential patients to other hospitals from Pottsville to Shamokin.

Only a satellite office near the hospital with affiliated private medical practices, and a 24 patient long-term care facility still operate.

This weekend, locked doors at the emergency room greeted people looking for treatment.

"My daughter's sick. She has crackling in her chest," said Charlette Trotta Saturday as she tried to get care for her daughter. "She's running a fever. This is ridiculous, she can't be seen."

The Pennsylvania Department of Health said it shut down most of the hospital's operations due to what it called "serious deficiencies and violations," but would not say what those deficiencies and violations are.

The next move could come from the hospital's Board of Directors, but the group is not scheduled to meet until late April.