SUNBURY – Time to get to work to keep some form of health care facility going in Sunbury, time to work on what’s next after last Thursday’s sudden announcement of the UPMC Susquehanna Sunbury closure. Greater Susquehanna Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Bob Garrett tells us various Sunbury city, and county officials, along with state and federal officials and other Valley business leaders are coming together to find solutions.
Garrett says Valley State Representative Lynda Schlegel Culver (R-108th, Sunbury) is leading the group. He says there has been some cooperation from UPMC so far, “We’re starting to get good, quality answers from UPMC that frankly, they probably didn’t know a week ago that are clearer today than they were then, as far as will it be a cold shutdown of the hospital, will it be a phase shutdown, how will it affect the doctors, how will it affect the health of the people of the Sunbury area, and then, also looking at the assets.”
Garrett says the group had its first meeting Friday, where leaders gathered what information about the closure they already knew, and what they still needed to find out. He says the chamber did receive courtesy calls from UPMC about the closure.
Garrett says it seemed imminent UPMC saw it couldn’t sustain keeping Sunbury Community Hospital open, “We were hopeful that day back in 2017 that maybe this huge healthcare system was going to be able to change the fate of the Sunbury Community Hospital. Now what we need to do is rethink healthcare focusing on Sunbury and see what we can do differently so that the next chapter is successful.”
When it comes to the hospital’s presumed soon-to-be-vacant assets, Garrett again stressed there is lots to work with to keep health care in Sunbury, “There’s a fine emergency room there, there’s a nursing home that currently exists and has said they are going to stay in Sunbury. We’re just looking at those assets and seeing how they can be marketed with UPMC as our partner as we move forward.”
Garrett says the group held its second meeting Tuesday and will meet again Thursday. Officials are continuing to stay in touch with UPMC as this process continues.