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Emergency waiting room seeing more patients following closure of UPMC Pinnacle Lancaster

LANCASTER, Pa. --- The waiting room of the emergency department at Lancaster General Hospital is seeing more patients.

A spokeswoman with LGH says the department is experiencing increased demand as a result of the UPMC Pinnacle Lancaster Hospital closure on February 28.

Officials say the emergency department is seeing an average of approximately 14 more patients per day.

They add that while trauma and critical care are not affected, patients with less severe health issues are waiting longer than average for care.

After UPMC Pinnacle Lancaster closed, inpatient services were transferred to UPMC Lititz Hospital in Warwick Township.

A spokeswoman for UPMC Pinnacle says the Litiz location emergency department is seeing an average of ten more patients per day since February.

They say the median wait time was 17 minutes in March, which they added is comparable to previous months, including busiest times.

UPMC Pinnacle officials say the wait time for the emergency department at UPMC Pinnacle Lititz averaged one minute more "from March and the previous months."

"The transition has gone smoothly, as carefully planned. While we understand change can sometimes be difficult, the move of inpatients from Lancaster to Lititz is a proactive step in ensuring the continuation of high-quality health care for local residents. UPMC Pinnacle Lititz is an updated facility, well-equipped to provide additional services, and we have the capacity and processes in place to adjust to volume increases, ensuring all patients receive the fastest and most appropriate care when they need it most," said Kelly McCall with UPMC Pinnacle in an email.

Tammy Rojas, who lives in Lancaster, is a part of the Lancaster Healthcare Rights Committee with 'Put People First! PA,' a group who fought the closure of UPMC Pinnacle Lancaster.

She said other members and personal friends are having a tough time because of the extra people filling up emergency departments.

“If they don’t do something very soon, something bad is going to happen and I would hate to really find out that it would take something like that to happen for someone to want to do something about this," said Rojas.

She said the group is still pushing for a solution, saying the effects of the UPMC Pinnacle Lancaster closure are putting a strain on all patients through the county.

“It’s really being overwhelmed, you know? That’s why we need another facility within the city because people throughout the county come this way for care<" said Rojas.

In an effort to add additional space for patients, Lancaster General Hospital is adding a temporary 2,500 square foot building to meet demand.

A spokesperson for Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center said while they also saw an increase in emergency department visits during March, they cannot attribute the increase directly to the UPMC Pinnacle Lancaster closure.

A spokesperson with WellSpan Ephrata says between February 15 and March 11, they saw an average of 81 patients per day. They say that is close to the daily average they are used to seeing.

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