“Save Bradford Hospital,” the grassroots organization concerned with Bradford’s healthcare needs, has scheduled a town hall meeting to update the community about the status of its efforts.
The meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Bradford Area Public Library. Individuals will also be able to view the proceedings virtually via Save Bradford Hospital’s Facebook page.
The group, calling it a “pivotal time,” hopes to outline what it knows about plans of Kaleida Health, the affiliate of Bradford Regional Medical Center; and of UPMC plans for the former Bradford Mall location.
The meeting is open to everyone.
“Right now, we have a situation where two health systems are vying for patients from Bradford and surrounding areas — and that’s a good thing,” said Marty Wilder, one of the group’s organizers.
“However, it also creates a fragmented health care system that can be difficult for patients to navigate,” she added. Also, at least one other health care system reportedly is interested in the Bradford market.
The thrust of the meeting will be to provide information but also to get the community’s feedback about the direction of healthcare in Bradford.
“We as a group are here not to represent our own interests but to represent the people of the Bradford area,” Wilder said. “We want to know their needs and desires so we know how to move forward.”
One of the greatest concerns at the moment is the status of the hospital building itself.
The Interstate Parkway building is controlled by Kaleida and its partner Upper Allegheny Health Systems, who reportedly have no wish to relinquish the building or to fully utilize it as a hospital.
Currently, the hospital has 10 beds for patients, an Emergency Department staffed full time by a physician, and an array of outpatient services such as a laboratory, X-ray department, physical therapy, a mental health unit, and Bradford Nursing Pavilion, to name a few.
During the height of the most recent COVID crisis, 20 beds were certified at Bradford but not staffed appropriately so they could not be fully utilized.
Kaleida has added several new physicians, and made some changes to its administrative staff. It had been anticipated that a new administrator would be in place by March, but thus far the position remains open.
Meanwhile, UPMC has begun work on a clinical unit at the former Bradford Mall and hopes to consolidate its many physician offerings at that location. It plans to provide outpatient services in a number of specialties.
Along with the substantial investment in renovations, UPMC officials have said they are pleased to be consolidating care in Bradford and looks to the community for direction in future offerings. Plans for a same-day surgery unit are still under consideration.
Along with the status of the hospital building itself, Save Bradford Hospital has continued to make clear its desire to return an ICU to the hospital building; add same-day surgery; and maintain at least 20 hospital beds.
“There are many other things we would like — such as maternity care — but our three basic demands are non-negotiable,” Wilder said.
“We are in a very rural and impoverished region,” she added, pointing out that the Bradford area is considered a medically underserved region. “We certainly do not need fewer services but, in fact, require many more services.
“As long as the people of Bradford are behind us, we intend to keep fighting. That’s why Wednesday’s meeting is so important.”