BOLIVAR, Pa.-A small Westmoreland County community will keep its only local source of medical care. Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center in Johnstown runs Bolivar's single-doctor medical clinic but is slated to close the clinic Sept. 1. Conemaugh's neighbor UPMC Lee Regional Hospital in Johnstown has volunteered to provide a full-time doctor and physician assistant so the clinic can reopen a week later. "The community is a little panicked, and we want them to know (they needn't be)," said Tom Kurtz, practice management director at UPMC Lee Regional. He said the hospital's plan must still receive board approval. But representatives from the hospital visited the clinic and said they could handle the need, Kurtz said. Conemaugh has operated the clinic since 1958. Conemaugh spokesman Pat Kane said the hospital decided to close the clinic because the facility didn't have enough patients to stay afloat. About 350 people per year use the clinic. Conemaugh announced last month that the closure would help cut $20 million from its budget.
WATERBURY, Conn.-St. Mary's Hospital has laid off more than 50 employees, citing reduced federal aid and payments from insurers. Last month, the 206-bed hospital offered early retirement to 117 employees in an effort to reduce costs and balance its books. Since only about half of that group accepted the proposal, hospital officials said they were forced to cut 56 positions earlier this month. The layoffs involve managerial and supervisory positions eliminated as part of the hospital's effort to deal with an expected $2 million budget deficit by the end of this year. "Cutting staff is the last thing we like to talk about in times like this," said Peggy Lawlor, vice president of community affairs. "It's certainly not the only thing we have considered. But we're facing what other hospitals are facing around the state." Lawlor said more than half of the employees being laid off are eligible to apply for a number of other positions that will be filled at St. Mary's.