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Braddock to UPMC: a life and death matter for us


My local single payer organizer sent along this copy of a letter from Braddock's mayor and council president to the board of UPMC; we intend to hand-deliver it to the chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh (UPMC's parent organization) today. The letter is not a "demand" that UPMC keep Braddock Hospital open, but a courteous request to either reverse the decision, or give the community time to find an alternative remedy. (Apparently, they have feelers out for someone else to run the hospital, but this will be virtually impossible if the hospital is closed and loses its operating license.)

All emphases mine.

We are writing on behalf of the residents of Braddock and the surrounding communities to seek your help in averting what will be a devastating blow to the health and safety of our citizens and the economy of our region.

We are talking, of course, about the impending closing of Braddock Hospital.

It is our understanding that you may not have been involved in the decision to close Braddock Hospital, but we hope you can play a critical role in finding a way to prevent the adverse consequences that closing Braddock Hospital will cause.

We assume you know that Braddock is a very poor municipality. You may not know that Braddock Hospital is our largest employer, and provides our only restaurant and ATM. But more important, it provides easily accessible, and critically needed health care to our residents, many of whom are elderly and chronically ill. Many of our residents survived emergencies due to the proximity of the Hospital, so this is a life and death matter for us.

Many in our community, particularly the African American community, have always had respect and admiration for UPMC due to its presence in Braddock. No one needed to tell us that we were viewed as poor and undesirable to many businesses and organizations. However, some businesses remained committed to the Braddock community and met the needs of the underserved. UPMC was listed among them.

UPMC’s announced closing of Braddock on such short notice provided no opportunity to find a way to either, keep the Hospital open, or find another operator. This has caused us to rethink our opinion of UPMC. Many are questioning UPMC’s public commitment to serving the more needy and vulnerable segments of our community.

We have urged UPMC CEO Jeffrey Romoff to reconsider closing Braddock Hospital, to no avail. That is why we are reaching out to you. We hope you will demand that the UPMC management reconsider its decision to close Braddock.

In the alternative, we ask that we be given more time to find a way to ensure that this facility continues to provide critically needed health services to the greater Braddock area. We have made serious inquiries in this regard and there are potential remedies. But these can only be successful if the hospital does not close on January 31, and the operating license does not expire.

As a member of the UPMC board, you have the power to help us. Please take action. Stop the closing of this critically needed facility or, at least, delay the closing of Braddock Hospital for 18 months. We don’t think such a delay will seriously harm UPMC. But 18 months will give us the time needed to locate an entity capable of operating a community hospital in Braddock.

We don’t think this is too much to ask. Can we count on you?

John Fetterman, Mayor of Braddock

Jesse Brown, President, Braddock Council

Tina Doose, Braddock Council Member

Tony Buba, Filmmaker

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DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

and does the local single payer organizer think that it would be worth putting pressure on the Trustees directly? Because that is the sort of thing that bloggers sitting on their fat asses can do.

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

Do any of the Trustees have some sort of vested interested in closing down the hospital? Is there anyway to use Twitter to confront them online? Or does the local organizer have some sort of other plan B that Corrente could support? I am a BIG believer in deferring to those on the ground.

Submitted by gob on

The organizer I spoke to today was happy to hear that someone, anyone, might be willing to contact board members on our behalf.

Here's the contact page on the Save Braddock website. Only phone numbers there, but there's also an 8-page pdf with more comprehensive information. I'm trying to get a sample letter or some talking points. But our main talking points are:

UPMC is a tax-exempt non-profit with an obligation to serve the community. The amount of money they are losing at Braddock Hospital is not enough to threaten their bottom line.

If they are determined to stop operating the hospital, they should at least be willing to delay long enough to allow community leaders to attempt to find someone who will operate it.

To answer your questions: I haven't seen any suggestion that there's a personal profit motive for closing the hospital on the part of any board member or anyone else, other than the natural desire of high-salaried executives to continue receiving their high salaries. There are some email addresses in the pdf file, but I don't know about Twitter.

As for the local organizers' plans, they have this pretty informative website. There's certainly no plan to give up, to say the least.

Submitted by gob on

Many, many people honked and waved at us in solidarity. This is perceived as a "people" issue, not "politics". A Pittsburgh police cruiser stopped and the cop inside shook hands with one of us.

I was surprised at how many passers by didn't already know about the closing, which was announced in October and has been in the news off and on ever since. How thoroughly conditioned we seem to be, collectively, to ignore public issues.

Submitted by lambert on

Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato: Phone: (412) 350-6500
Rep. Mike Doyle : Phone: 202-225-2135 Phone: 412-241-6055 412-664-4049
Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr.: Toll Free: (866) 802-2833 Phone: (412) 803-7370
Sen. Arlen Specter: Phone: (412) 644-3400
State Rep. Paul Costa: Phone: (412) 824-3400 Phone: (717) 783-1914
State Sen. Sean Logan: Phone: 412.380.2242 Phone: 412.664.5200 Phone: 717.787.5580