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Workers React to Hospital Closure

Posted on: 6:12 pm, April 10, 2012, by , updated on: 06:34pm, April 10, 2012

One day after Saint Catherine Medical Center in Schuylkill County filed for bankruptcy protection staff members were called for a meeting to talk about the future of the hospital and the future of their jobs.

Newswatch 16 was not allowed in the meeting, but the workers Tuesday shared their emotions.

The laid-off workers gathered in groups, talking about their futures and what will be the next step for Saint Catherine Medical Center in Fountain Springs.

They were ushered into a private meeting with hospital administrators.

The state closed Saint Catherine’s for a number of reasons, including what is contained in a federal report. The report said there were no surgical gloves, needles or syringes in certain parts of the hospital, or medicated soap. One doctor went as far as saying the hospital was dangerous to patients.

“Spellbound. I have no other word. I thought it was doing well, everyone thought it was doing well, and one day, it was a Friday afternoon at 4 p. m. I was told to shut the machines down. I work in radiology and the hospital can’t work anymore under these conditions,” said Gerard Higgins.

Some of the workers said they suspected problems when the paychecks stopped. Some are owed up to five weeks back pay.  Their medical benefits expired.

“It’s taken my savings away, now I have no savings left so and I borrowed money from my parents,” said Shawn Ulmer.

“I have been here for 15 years and my brother has been here for 35 years and it’s devastating. It’s like a family out here, the best,” said Cathy Pizzoli.

People came out of their meeting with administrators not knowing what the future holds. They were promised back pay and there were hints someone may want to buy Saint Catherine.

“This hospital we need. This hospital we need. I hope that comes true and for people to keep us in their prayers,” said union leader Barry Spiels.

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