KINGSTON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Concerns are rising about healthcare accessibility in our region.

This comes after several local hospitals and medical facilities have either closed or ended their services.

When First Hospital in Kingston closed last year, lawmakers say it left a tremendous void for behavioral health services in the area. But now a new beginning is on the horizon.

A second chance for the former First Hospital as nearly one year after its closure state representative Aaron Kaufer announced it will reopen as Wyoming Valley Behavioral Health Hospital.

“We’re really excited that we got a group to purchase First Hospital herein and make sure that it is going to be maintained here as a behavioral health hospital,” Kaufer stated.

Under the ownership of Commonwealth Health, First Hospital was one of the largest providers of mental health services in the region. Staffing shortages and an incident at the hospital were cited as some of the reasons for its closure.

28/22 News was live on the scene when a violent riot broke out here at the former First Hospital in June 2022.

“First Hospital, before closing, covered a huge part of not only northeastern Pennsylvania but central Pennsylvania. Losing these beds here in this area was a huge loss,” Kaufer added.

Kaufer says Signet Health is working with Wyoming Valley Behavioral Health Hospital to recruit staff and set up operations.
Access to healthcare continues to change in NEPA amid closures, consolidations, and the conclusion of services.

“This is big news here as we see the trend of what’s happening in our area, health care going away, facilities shutting down, and not seeing the investment expansions that we need,” Kaufer continued.

Just this week Wilkes-Barre General Hospital, affiliated with commonwealth health, abruptly announced the end of its childbirth services.

Wyoming Valley Behavioral Health is on track to begin accepting patients in October.