For more than a century, Bradford Regional Medical Center (BRMC) has been an anchor in our community, providing an array of health care services to generations of families across the region. Going to our local hospital means we may know some of the doctors, nurses and others on staff. And it means our loved ones are close by and more likely able to visit.
Last week, we learned we could soon lose this opportunity as Upper Alleghany Health System (UAHS) announced plans to transfer all acute care and surgical services out of Bradford and into Olean General Hospital as early as this spring.
If this plan is implemented, it will have a devastating impact on our community, further reducing our access to critical health care services, increasing existing transportation problems for many residents seeking care, and cutting valuable jobs.
In the many conversations I’ve had with UAHS officials over the last month, it is clear they don’t fully understand the impact this will have on our community and county. Perhaps if they actually communicated with citizens they would gain greater understanding. While I am well aware of the very real challenges facing rural health care here and across the country, I believe UAHS is doing a disservice to the people of Bradford and has underestimated the support of the community for our hospital.
That’s why I’ve joined with the McKean County commissioners in launching a “Save Our Community Hospital” petition drive. UAHS officials need to hear from you, the hard-working men and women of Bradford and the surrounding areas, about how important BRMC is to our community. You can sign the petition by stopping by my office at 78 Main St. or visiting my website at RepCauser.com
It’s been more than a decade since BRMC and Olean General Hospital joined to form Upper Allegheny Health System. At the time, local officials, including me, were encouraged by hospital leaders to support this effort to enhance health care services in our rural region. Instead, we’ve seen a pattern of diminishing medical services, from shuttering dental centers to the more recent closing of maternity services in the fall of 2019.
Enough is enough. It’s time for UAHS and its parent, Kaleida Health, to live up to their commitments to invest in our community and enhance the health care services available to us here in Bradford. If they are unable to do so, perhaps its time to look at merging with another health care system.
The citizens of McKean County deserve access to quality care close to home.