LANCASTER, Pa. --- A staple on the 200 block of College Avenue is no more.
After more than 130 years, the facility holding UPMC Pinnacle Lancaster Hospital is officially closed, as of 7 a.m. Thursday morning.
Inpatient services will be centralized at the UPMC Pinnacle Lititz Hospital that is roughly seven to eight miles from the Lancaster facility.
Jose Lugo, a resident and UPMC Pinnacle Lancaster patient, was caught off guard Thursday morning.
"I came to see my doctor [Thursday], now I found out it's closed," said Lugo.
When he went inside to get a prescription, Lugo came out with a sheet of paper directing him to UPMC Imaging Services on the 700 block of Manheim Pike, about two miles from the hospital.
Lugo said he and his family came to UPMC Pinnacle Lancaster for as long as he could remember because it was a trip within walking distance from his home.
Now, he said he's going to have to re-evaluate his options.
“I’ve got three kids, you know what i mean? I don’t know, I can’t really make it. Maybe i’ve got to call a taxi...Or come on the bus,” said Lugo.
He said he didn't think UPMC Pinnacle Lititz was an option, at the time.
"It’s far away. Sometimes when you have no transportation, you know, it’s hard,” said Lugo.
'Put People First! PA' rallied to try and keep the hospital open.
Tammy Rojas, co-coordinator of the Lancaster Healthcare Rights Committee, said the group will continue to fight to bring a hospital back the area.
As she put it, they're going to "Take back St. Joseph's Hospital," the previous title of the facility.
“If you’re not well, you can’t work. If you’re not well, you can’t go to school. Do you see what i’m saying? It’s the basics of what we need so it really needs to be taken seriously," said Rojas.
In email written responses, Brooks Turkel, UPMC Pinnacle President, Lancaster Region said:
"The transition of emergency and inpatient services from UPMC Pinnacle Lancaster to UPMC Pinnacle Lititz occurred smoothly and successfully. We have combined the strengths of the outstanding patient care teams from both hospitals, unified employees, and will continue to ensure Lancaster residents have access to quality care."
Regarding former employees at UPMC Pinnacle Lancaster, Turkel responded:
"More than 70 percent of employees were placed in positions at UPMC Pinnacle Lititz or elsewhere within UPMC Pinnacle."
In response to the official closure of UPMC Pinnacle Lancaster, Turkel replied:
“Moving our inpatient and surgical services to Lititz will allow us to continue to add new services in a modern facility and to provide the leading-edge care that the people of Lancaster expect and deserve. We will combine the strengths of our outstanding patient care teams, and bring all of our inpatient programs to one campus, making care more convenient for patients. With all of the steps we’ve taken, we are combining a rich tradition of caring, with a state-of-the-art facility, in order to ensure the continued availability of high-quality clinical care in Lancaster County, for generations to come. My job, and the job of the entire UPMC Pinnacle team, is to ensure that the tradition of compassionate care continues at UPMC Pinnacle Lititz."
When asked about patients who have concerns regarding transportation to new locations, Turkel answered:
"UPMC Pinnacle is committed to maintaining convenient access to care throughout the county. We have two very important patient care sites in the City of Lancaster. The Medical Arts Building, across the street from the UPMC Pinnacle Lancaster hospital at 233 College Avenue, and the UPMC Outpatient Center at 1160 Manheim Pike, next to Sheetz.
"On Feb. 28, our College Avenue Family Medicine teaching clinic and our Regional Neurology and Pain Management Associates opened today at their new site in the Medical Arts Building. Currently in that building are also General & Surgical Oncology Specialists of Central PA, Infectious Disease Consultants of Lancaster, UPMC Pinnacle Nephrology, and Lancaster Pulmonary and Sleep Associates. In addition, we are planning to add physicians from our Harrisburg-based thoracic surgery practice and an Express Care walk-in clinic.
"Our UPMC Outpatient Center at 1160 Manheim Pike in the City of Lancaster, is home for our Manheim Pike Primary Care office, UPMC Imaging Services (with a full suite of diagnostic imaging, including MRI, CT, as well as a draw station for lab work), Select Physical Therapy, and Orthopaedic Specialists of Central PA, which includes three new specialists in sports medicine, orthopaedic surgery, and spine surgery.
UPMC Pinnacle Lititz is actively working with the Red Rose Transit Authority (RRTA), Lancaster‘s public transit agency, to increase bus service access and frequency from Lancaster City to UPMC Pinnacle Lititz. For employees, we are also developing a Bus Pass program with RRTA to make the commute to Lititz more convenient."
Rojas said 'Put People First! PA' plans to address Lancaster City Council and Lancaster County Commissioners at public meetings in March as they push for a solution.