By Jon Delano

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ELLWOOD CITY (KDKA) — Employees at Ellwood City Medical Center in Lawrence County say the new hospital ownership is cutting worthless checks to pay them.

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“The checks were bouncing or the banks wouldn’t take them,” one employee told KDKA money editor Jon Delano on Monday. “It was disheartening, to say the least, that we didn’t have any money before Christmas.”

The employee, who was willing to talk if not identified, says since Grant White, founder of Americore Health based in Florida, purchased the former non-profit hospital in 2017, it has gone downhill.

“Things have been taken away. Services have been dropped. Departments have been closed. We went from around 400 people to about 190 now,” the employee said.

“I’ve reached out to the district attorney in Lawrence County and asked him to open an investigation into this issue,” said PA Rep. Aaron Bernstine, a New Beaver Borough Republican.

Bernstine says he’s trying to get to the bottom of what’s going on.

“Today we had a meeting with the United States Department of Labor in order to see what needs to do in order to flush out that situation and make sure that residents and employees of the hospital are protected,” Bernstine said.

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Last Friday, employees finally received — two weeks late — good checks owed before Christmas.

But they have still not received their most recent paychecks.

“They weren’t able to distribute that check yet, and we’re still waiting for that paycheck,” the employee said.

In the meantime, employees are still on the job, keeping the medical center open and safe, without pay.

“This is our community. We work here. We live here. These are our brothers and sisters, our cousins, our neighbors. I do believe that patient care is still definitely here,” the employee said.

“What I’m really proud about is that the Ellwood City Medical Center and the great employees that are there have continued to do everything to provide exceptional care for people that are in that hospital,” Bernstine said.

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KDKA reached out to White at Americore Health, but no response yet.