By Kristin Emery

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ELLWOOD CITY (KDKA) — Employees at the Ellwood City Medical Center are waiting anxiously to see if they’ll get paid Friday. If not, it would be the second time in a month without a paycheck.

As employees came to work Friday morning, the big question was, would they leave work with a paycheck? Many were afraid to talk with KDKA for fear of losing their jobs. So far, the ownership is giving them few answers.

“They still don’t know if they’re gonna get paid today, which, in my eyes, is a travesty considering a lot of them didn’t get paid before Christmas. How heartbreaking is that?” Ellwood City Mayor Anthony Court said.

Court is on the hospital’s advisory board, but they’re also being kept in the dark about finances.

“Things have gotten to the point where it’s getting harder and harder,” he said. “Employees that were here for over 30 years have been let go. Like I said, a lot of the facilities aren’t properly functioning. As a community, we’re suffering.”

Court says employees didn’t get paid Dec. 21 and the facility is behind again on its electric bill.

“There’s been some vendors not getting paid yet, employees not getting paid. And yet, I find it interesting that this group allegedly has purchased a hospital in St. Louis for $10 million,” Court said.

One of those vendors is Joe Singh, whose family owns a nearby gas station.

“They have an account here. They used to buy gas and [at the] end of the month, I send them a bill. So they used to pay, but since six months [ago], more than that, they didn’t pay my bill so I don’t let them buy any more gas from here,” Singh said.

The hospital owes them $500 for gasoline.

“So no more gas for them,” Singh said. “Not from here anymore.”

Mayor Court says that’s just one example of the hospital’s financial problems hurting the entire Ellwood City community.

“We’d be devastated as a community if this hospital would close for so many reasons,” Court said. “It’s just so many negative reasons and that’s why we’re all on pins and needles here.”

The mayor expressed frustration to the point where he said they may have to contact someone with the state on an oversight board to look into exactly what is going on with the finances of the hospital.

In the meantime, Mayor Court tells KDKA that employees received cashier checks today covering their paychecks dated Dec. 21. However, those checks bounced because the new hospital owners, Florida-based Americore Health, had insufficient funds

Court says employees were also told they would get paid the last two weeks early next Monday or Tuesday.