New Castle News

July 19, 2013

Ellwood City doctor wants to stay at hospital

Debbie Wachter
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — An Ellwood City doctor said his office isn’t necessarily closing, despite plans to shut down the hospital’s obstetrics/gynecology unit.

“I haven’t decided what I’m going to do, if and when the hospital closes OB,” Dr. Joseph Ciocca said Thursday.

Meanwhile, he’s trying to persuade the hospital board of trustees to change its decision.

Ciocca, an obstetrician/gynecologist, rents office space in the bottom floor of Ellwood City Hospital, which recently announced plans to close its obstetrics/gynecology unit by the end of the year.

The decision may force Ciocca to move his practice.

The announcement did not sit well with community members, who have signed petitions and are staging a rally at 3 p.m. Friday in Ellwood City to demonstrate their concern.

In addition to delivering babies, Ciocca said, many of his patients use the hospital’s diagnostic and laboratory services such as mammograms, ultrasounds and Pap smear testing.

“My plans are to fight to keep the department open,” he said. “And if and when it does close, I will decide where to locate my practice.

“I’m not affiliated directly with the hospital, they have no ability to decide to close my office,” he explained. “Though I suppose they could terminate the lease at some point.

“But I don’t want my patients thinking that my office is closing because the hospital is closing obstetrics.”

Ciocca said the obstetrics unit has seen thousands of patients in the 12 years he’s been there.

The board president informed him the decision was for financial reasons, Ciocca said.

“They had already voted,” he said. “What bothered me is that they decided without any attempt to make the department more profitable. There are things we could have done in terms of advertising, improvements and optimizing work flows, as examples.”

“Right now, we want to see if we can’t get them to reverse that decision,” he said, “and see what we can do going forward. We want them to give us a couple of years.”

“I’ve been moved by how many people have expressed support,” Ciocca added. “Given the public outcry, I’m hoping that we will get the administration and the board to reconsider.”