New Castle News

July 20, 2013

Rally supports Ellwood obstetrics department

Lauren Rearick
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — Ellwood City’s community plaza became a place of supportive cheers and cries of frustration Friday afternoon.

Area residents gathered for a peaceful demonstration, hoping their voices of support for the borough hospital’s obstetrics and gynecology department would be heard prior to its planned closing.

“We wanted to get the community involved and we want the board to reconsider their decision,” said Bobbi Morton, one of the organizers of the demonstration.

The effort organized by Morton and Joanna McAfee received support from more than 30 community members and government officials who rallied from 3 to 7 p.m.

According to McAfee, the rally was a means to drawn more attention to their cause.

“This is a good way to get the public riled up,” McAfee said. “We’re hoping the community gets motivated and that officials see the community really isn’t happy.”

Those attending read aloud letters from supporters, in addition to sharing their own stories of care from the hospital.

Joining in the speeches was Dr. Joseph Ciocca, a gynecologist whose office is in the hospital.

“When the administration told me it (the department) was going to close, I was taken somewhat by surprise,” Ciocca said. “No one from administration had said they were contemplating closing the unit. It’d be a real step backward to close this unit.”

This “surprise” was also shared among supporters, with some wondering how their care will be affected.

Ellwood City resident Gail Gibbons is expecting her third child in February and said she’s unsure where her care will come from should the unit close.

“I can’t explain the care you get from them,” Gibbons said. “They turned me into the best patient.

“These places don’t care,” she said of other hospitals. “I don’t want to go to Magee.”

Fellow supporters agreed, with Lori Fritsch — a Perry Township mother of one — saying she too “couldn’t imagine going anywhere else.”

“We don’t want to see this department close,” Fritsch said. “I received excellent care from the nurses. The care was unbelievable.”

With hundreds of signatures to the group’s online and paper petitions, along with the support shown at Friday’s event, Morton is hopeful community backing will continue to grow.

“We’re hoping the community will want to get more involved,” Morton said. “We hope the hospital hears us and reconsiders.”