Workers at Schuylkill Health in Pottsville received word that as the only hospital in Schuylkill County and one of the largest employers in the county, it will have a new owner.
That would be Lehigh Valley Health Network of Salisbury Township – the largest employer in the Greater Lehigh Valley.
Marc Lory, interim president and CEO of Schuylkill Health, made the announcement via a memo posted to employees Wednesday morning.
“We are excited to work with Lehigh Valley Health Network,” said Karen Haas, licensed practical nurse at Schuylkill Health for nearly 20 years. “As the people who work directly with patients, we know what this community wants and needs from their hospital.”
With a staff of about 1,300 full- and part-time employees and an annual payroll of more than $68 million, Schuylkill Health is the result of a 2008 merger of two community hospitals and their affiliated entities, including rehabilitation, home health and dental services.
Schuylkill Medical Center on East Norwegian Street – formerly the Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center – is a 126-bed general acute care medical center. Schuylkill Medical Center on South Jackson Street – formerly the Pottsville Hospital and Warne Clinic – has 179 beds and also provides general acute care.
Workers have organized a public town hall meeting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 4, at the Ramada Inn in Pottsville. The meeting is designed for all stakeholders of Schuylkill Health – coworkers, community, management – to discuss what successful and quality hospital care should be in the county.
“We hope [LVHN] comes to the town hall so they can get input from the people we serve,” said Brian Symons, a cook for Schuylkill Health for 10 years. “Working together, I know we can create an even better hospital.”
Officials at LVHN were unavailable for comment this morning.
More than 250 workers at Schuylkill Health are members of Service Employees International Union Healthcare Pennsylvania.
SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania, an affiliate of SEIU Healthcare, is the state’s largest and fastest growing union of health care workers, representing 25,000 nurses, technicians, nursing assistants and support staff in hospitals, nursing homes and public institutions across the state.
SEIU represents 2.1 million working people in health care, public services and property services.
“There has been a lot of stress with the uncertainty hanging over us,” said Mary Schatz, a housekeeper at Schuylkill Health for nearly eight years. “Schuylkill County needs quality, family-sustaining jobs. It’s a real concern for folks here.”
Lehigh Valley Health Network includes five hospital campuses – three in Allentown, one in Bethlehem and one in Hazleton; 13 health centers caring for communities in five counties; and many primary and specialty care physician practices throughout the region. By the first half of the year, LVHN is expected to merge with Pocono Health System of East Stroudsburg.