Officials, public discuss potential replacements for former UPMC Pinnacle Lancaster Hospital site

LANCASTER, Pa. --- It's been more than two months since UPMC Pinnacle Lancaster Hospital on the 200 block of College Avenue closed its doors.

On Monday night, city officials started the process of talking to the public about what could be next for the 6.4 acre site.

The property is currently zoned to hold a hospital facility only.

Anne Winslow, co-coordinator of the Healthcare Rights Committee of 'Put People First! PA,' a group that fought the closure of UPMC Pinnacle Lancaster Hospital, said they believe the building needs to be replaced with an emergency healthcare facility.

"They could do CT scans and MRIs, and get patients stabilized that may come in with strokes or heart attacks or other trauma," said Winslow.

She said the group continues to hear hardships from people who used to go to the hospital, citing problems with long wait times and no access to care.

"A lot of them don't have transportation and this was really convenient to come up in an emergency and if family members were admitted they could come and see them whereas if they're in Lititz of Ephrata, they may not have the money to get out there," said Winslow.

Mayor Danene Sorace said it's not as simple as replacing the hospital with another hospital, saying in the meeting they do not believe UPMC Pinnacle would sell the property to an industry competitor.

"This is a private parcel of land that is owned by UPMC at this time and that we don't have any say over who they sell it to," said Sorace.

She said the city is working with UPMC Pinnacle on what they'd like to see come of the property.

Sorace said if the building does not become a hospital, she, personally, would like to see the property become a form of housing.

"A decision was made by UPMC. Were we happy about it? No. People lost their jobs, people have been displaced, all of those things. At the same time, I'm also very reluctant to have that building remain unoccupied for long periods of time. People are concerned about its continued maintenance and upkeep and security and those issues, we have been addressing with UPMC," said Sorace.

Other ideas written down by residents included mix-used properties, green spaces or community center.

"Don't" included demolition of the property or the addition of a shopping center.

Bud Hartley, who lives near the site, said he would prefer it become affordable and mixed housing, emphasizing access to homes for the poorest people in the city.

"It ought to catch that spirit of Lancaster which puts various economics levels in proximity to each other," said Hartley.

Sorace said the next step is to take the suggestions and discuss them with UPMC and its real estate team.

She said they will remain in contact with a potential developer and the public as the project develops.

FOX43 was unable to receive comment from UPMC Pinnacle at the time of publication.

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