CENTRE COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — The sole medical facility in a Centre County community will be closing its doors in the end of August. When that happens, people who live in Snow Shoe will have to travel out of the area, to Philipsburg, State College, or further, for their medical needs.
“It was a really, really difficult decision for us to make, if we could have made the decision to stay there, we would have,” said Kristie Bennardi, CEO & CFO of Keystone Rural Health Consortia Inc.
The future of Mountaintop Area Medical Center has been in question for several years, according to Bennardi. A steady decline in patients sealed it’s fate.
“It just kept getting worse,” said Bennardi. “Once COVID really hit the area, there was a sharp decline, and we were hoping that afterwards that we could build it back up, but its never really fully rebounded.”
In the last three years, they had a total of 500 patients. In 2021, Bennardi said they only had 143 from Snow Shoe.
“It’s just another continuous blow which is very disappointing for the community,” said Senator Jake Corman, 34th District, in response to the closure.
Other factors led to the decision, including the facility losing revenue after its joint pharmacy moved.
“We haven’t been able to find a pharmacy in the area that could be a contract pharmacy for us,” said Bennardi.
Bennardi said there were some patients who didn’t want to leave, but had no other choice because their insurance was cheaper other places. They’re supporting remaining patients through the end of the year and helping them find another primary care doctor.
She said it was difficult to find employees with proper training. For the nurses currently on staff, she said two have found other jobs, and the third will be joining their Emporium office.
Senator Corman said it’s another loss for a small community.
“It’s a great community full of wonderful people, but it’s a smaller community and therefore a lot of these things are more difficult to keep running,” said Corman.
Corman said they’re prepared to listen to the needs of Snow Shoe residents moving forward.