2008-12-04 / Local & State

State Bans New Patients From W. Pa. Hospital

ALIQUIPPA, Pa. (AP) - A financially troubled western Pennsylvania hospital must stop accepting new patients because its problems are putting patients' health and safety at risk, the state Health Department said Wednesday.

The 96-bed Commonwealth Medical Center faces a potential gas service shut-off because of unpaid bills, and it is also running out of supplies and equipment, agency spokeswoman Stacy Kriedeman said.

The state will move to close the hospital if it does not comply with a Monday deadline to show that it can continue operating for the next six months to a year, Kriedeman said.

"The most immediate issue concerns their financial viability,'' Kriedeman said.

A hospital spokeswoman did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment.

The former Aliquippa Community Hospital was bought by Commonwealth Medical Center a year ago for nearly $23 million. The sale was completed after the hospital failed to emerge from bankruptcy and changed from nonprofit to for-profit status.

It had been operating on a provisional license at the time of the sale, but its full license was restored earlier this year after the state accepted its plan of correction.

The hospital now has four patients, but they will be allowed to stay at their doctors' discretion, Kriedeman said.

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