MONROEVILLE (KDKA) — There were no balloons and not a lot of fanfare or traffic to mark opening day at UPMC East, the medical giant’s 156-bed community hospital in Monroeville.
Officials were not even available to trumpet their services, but they did have guests of another kind.
While UPMC claims that this new state-of-the-art hospital will serve the growing medical needs of Monroeville and surrounding communities, protestors showed up to remind everybody that the price of this hospital was the closure of another community hospital — UPMC Braddock.
A few dozen Braddock area residents protested the opening, invoking UPMC CEO Jeffrey Romoff.
“Romoff, get off it. You’re not a non-profit,” they chanted.
“They left Braddock with an empty hole in the ground and no healthcare for the community who really need it,” says Carmella Mullen of North Braddock.
Protestors say UPMC shut down Braddock to come to a suburb that already has a hospital, Forbes Regional, solely to make money.
UPMC East will serve the Braddock area, but residents say they will lose precious time in traveling to Monroeville in an emergency.
“That’s not fast enough if you’re having a heart attack. That’s not fast enough if you’re having a stroke. My son has asthma and that’s not fast enough for me, for him if he needs care,” adds Pamela Lee of North Braddock.
As for Monroeville’s other hospital, Forbes Regional president Reese Jackson says unlike UPMC East, Forbes is a full service hospital that won’t send patients into Oakland.
“We’re built to last. We’re a house made out of brick, so we won’t blow over. We’re going to be just fine,” Jackson told KDKA Money Editor Jon Delano.