The Bradford Regional Medical Center will no longer have a surgical department starting in April, the Upper Allegheny Health System, which operates Bradford Regional and the Olean General Hospital in New York, announced Wednesday.
The Upper Allegheny Health System said it’s consolidating its acute care and surgical services to Olean General, which is about 20 miles northeast of Bradford. The decision will leave 10 beds in service at the Bradford hospital and will move the sleep study and occupational health services to Bradford.
“However, the April 1 date is subject to change depending on the COVID-19 pandemic,” the announcement said. “UAHS will not implement the plan so long as the pandemic significantly impacts hospitals, staff and resources.”
The two hospitals merged in 2018, and the health system’s president Jeff Zewe said the system has more beds than the population it serves requires.
“Success has been particularly challenging for rural hospitals nationwide over the last several years due to declining populations and a variety of other factors including inadequate reimbursement, recruitment challenges, competition, unaffordable duplication of services and hospitals which have too many beds for the populations they serve,” Zewe said in the statement.
He said the decision will improve the overall effectiveness of the two hospitals.
Bradford Regional cut its OB-GYN department in 2019 and many Bradford residents fear this additional loss of service will mean lost jobs and further limit healthcare access.
In a statement, Bradford Mayor James McDonald said the changes will “leave a permanent black eye on the face” of the city.
“Bits and pieces of BRMC have been chipped away and sent over the border into Olean for years,” McDonald wrote. “It goes without saying that an unacceptable number of jobs at BRMC will probably be affected, if not completely lost. Also, you have to imagine what losing capabilities at a hospital does to the prospect of people potentially wanting to move to this area.”
He said the city council is reaching out to hospital administrators to see if the plan can be reconsidered, before it takes effect on April 1st.