KINGSTON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — There’s more fallout Thursday, about the planned closure of a mental health and psychiatric facility in Luzerne County. It comes after this week’s announcement that First Hospital of Kingston will close its doors in the fall.
News of the planned closure is a blow to patients and their families, as well as the medical professionals who work there. The news conference focused on how the community may suffer if there is no turning back from the closure, and no way to fill the gap.
One speaker stated:
“How can you just close a facility with 5,000 patients without some kind of a backup plan?” said Representative Eddie Day Pashinski.
“These shock waves and ripple effects will not just impact Luzerne County but all of Northeastern Pennsylvania,” stated Representative Aaron Kaufer.
Raising serious concerns about what happens if and when First Hospital closes its doors. The for-profit company Commonwealth Health which owns and operates the facility announced the planned closure for the end of October.
“Fewer beds translates to fewer options, fewer resources, and fewer jobs,” said Representative Aaron Kaufer
Union workers who appeared at this news conference declined to speak on camera for fear of losing their jobs. But an activist read a prepared statement on behalf of one of the hospital’s healthcare workers.
“Closing First Hospital and taking away a lifeline that far too many of our friends, our family, and our neighbors rely on will have far-reaching implications for our community,” said Kristin Volchansky, Advocacy & Political Organizer, Action Together NEPA.
Among the community, a Larksville woman whose 17-year-old son receives treatment and education at First Hospital, five days a week.
“He’s starting to think more on the future. He’s taking his medication.” Hiller says, “He’s making strides.” Mickle-Symons says, “he is. He really is.”
She stepped up to the microphone to share her fears that that progress will be stripped away for her son and others.
“When this closes, we don’t know where are kids are going to go,” said Jennifer Mickle-Symons added.
And it’s not just First Hospital targeted for closure. Some patients at Community Counseling Services, also under the Commonwealth Health umbrella, tell Eyewitness News that facility will close in a couple of months as well.
“Well, they’ll probably, you know give us other places to go but it’s not going to be the same.” Hiller says, “It might not be close, either.” Travis says, “Exactly.”
“I’m just worried about now what are the people going to do when they have crisis situations and this is the place they come,” said Ruthie Freeman, Patient, Community Counseling Services.
With so much at stake, Representative Laufer says he is working to bring the wolf administration and the State Department of Health into the equation to make sure mental health and psychiatric services remain in the Wyoming Valley.