State Reps. John Boccieri (D-Poland), Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown) and Glenn Holmes (D-Girard) today responded to the recent announcement that the Northside Regional Medical Center, owned and operated by Steward Health Care, will cease operations on September 20.

“From the beginning, it was difficult to see Steward Health Care’s for-profit model of hospital mergers and acquisitions working for the Valley community,” said Boccieri. “Operational changes created tension for patients, reducing pharmacy hours caused in-patient care delays, altering staff-to-patient ratios potentially diminished high quality care and contract delays caused tension among nurses. My concern is looking for a path forward for both patients and workers in coming weeks.”

Northside Regional Medical Center claims the closure is due to a steady patient decline over the years, with 80 percent of the beds empty on a given night. Reps. Boccieri and Lepore-Hagan sent a joint letter of support in June regarding their concerns for some of Northside’s general operations procedures. The hospital will stop providing emergency services and patient care on September 17 and discharge or transfer in-patients by September 19. During this time, Northside reported that the facility is committed to working on both their in-patients’ and out-patients’ continuity of care.

“I promise to work with Mayor Brown, members of Youngstown City Council and other regional hospitals to ensure that the health care needs of my constituents,” said Lepore-Hagan. “I applaud the providers who have made a commitment to our community and have demonstrated time and again that they, unlike Steward, place patients, families, and staff first. I’m confident that they will step up and do all they can to ensure that Steward’s incredibly lax and callous stewardship of Northside does not create a health care crisis in the Valley. I will do all I can to help the health care professionals who dedicated their careers and lives to Northside, and its patients deal with this unfortunate and unnecessary situation. I will work with them and local, state, and federal officials to seek and secure a new company or entity to operate the facility in the way it should have been operated by the company that has abandoned them and our community.”

It is reported by the Youngstown General Duty Nurses Association (YGDNA) that 188 union nurses will be affected by this closure, along with other hospital personnel. It is unclear if these nurses and other hospital personnel will be able to transfer to other hospitals.

“It looks like Steward’s overall strategy for our community did not put patient care at the top of their priority list; therefore, they had a hard time attracting clients,” said Holmes. “As much as we intended to work with Steward, their profit margins did not offer much compromise. I am still willing to work with Steward to reach an agreement that benefits not only them, but our entire community. Regardless, I’m committed to working with any healthcare provider who puts their commitment to the community and their patients over dollars and cents.” 

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