Friday, January 29, 2010
“Unless one has been living in a cave for the past few months, he or she could not fail to recognize that the closing of Braddock Hospital is a serious, if not crushing blow to the mostly poor residents of Braddock” – that’s according to Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Gene Strassburger. Nonetheless, he denied County Councilman Charles McCullough’s motion to stop UPMC from closing the facility Friday. Strassburger says the evidence presented by McCullough did not require the hospital to stay open. But McCullough says this isn’t the end, and urged UPMC to go into negotiations with Braddock residents. He says he’ll abide by the wishes of his constituents and will “fight this to hell” if that’s where they want to go. If he appeals, it will be on the grounds that the judge misconstrued the laws. He says UPMC has to keep the hospital open "on a revenue producing basis—and if they wanted to close it they should have amended or paid off the bonds" issued by Bank of New York Mellon and Allegheny County. Braddock Mayor John Fetterman says he’s glad they had their day in court, even if the decision didn’t go their way. Fetterman says he’s not sure what comes next, though if there is a way to keep the hospital open they’ll fight for it. UPMC lawyer Jack McGinley says he feels that they’re on solid legal footing, but if McCullough wants to go for round two, he’ll see him in the ring. He says UPMC isn’t abandoning Braddock and is working with the community to mitigate the loss of the hospital.