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The Group Save Our Community Hospitals (SOCH) Protested Today Outside of Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato's Office

Tuesday, May 11, 2010 General News J E 4
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SOCH Questions Onorato's Role in the Fight to Save Braddock Hospital Since He Takes So Much Money From UPMC

PITTSBURGH, May 10 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Twenty-five members of the Save Our Community Hospitals (SOCH) organization demonstrated today outside the office of Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato in connection with his handling of the closing of UPMC/Braddock Hospital. The group distributed a flyer calling attention to the large number of campaign contributions Mr. Onorato has taken from UPMC connected managers, physicians and lobbyists, including $12,500 from UPMC CEO Jeffrey Romoff.

On October 16, 2009, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center announced it was closing UPMC/Braddock on January 31, 2010. Mr. Onorato came to Braddock on November 18 to announce that he would fight to keep the Hospital open, or in the alternative, to find a good use for the facility. He formed a stakeholders group and hired a consultant to study how to keep the hospital open, and to find ways to utilize the building. At that meeting, Braddock residents made it clear that keeping some form of emergency care in Braddock was critical to Braddock and the surrounding communities.

Suddenly, on February 2, before the stakeholders group had completed its work, and before the Consultant's study was made public, Mr. Onorato surprised all involved by holding a press conference to announce the "Onorato/UPMC Plan" to demolish the hospital building and build a retail development on the site. All those who had been fighting to save the hospital were shocked and wondered why Mr. Onorato appeared to be cutting a deal with UPMC, and even went against the recommendations of his own consultant.

SOCH members distributed a flyer today that may hold the reason why Mr. Onorato supports demolishing the building. Listed on the flyer are 23 UPMC executives, physicians and lobbyists who have contributed over $40 thousand dollars to the Onorato campaign. (Contact hughes@citizenpower.com for a copy of the flyer).

"We question whether Dan Onorato can be trusted to fight for poor communities like Braddock when he is the beneficiary of thousands in campaign contributions from the likes of UPMC," said Tony Buba, SOCH chairperson.

Braddock resident Carmella Mullen pointed out that apparently the Onorato/UPMC plan has no emergency care component. "This is our top priority. People will die as a result of this hospital closing because anyone in serious condition will have to travel much longer to get treated. Many of our relatives were saved at Braddock Hospital because they were stabilized so quickly. I am shocked that there's no plan for emergency care in Onorato's plan," Mullen said.

"We understand the decision to close Braddock Hospital is simply about the bottom line quote on quote for UPMC," said the Reverend James McDonald, president of the Greater Braddock Ministerial Association. "How else can you explain closing a great facility that is vitally needed by a predominantly poor and black population. But the difference between Mr. Onorato's promises and the plan he announced really calls into question who he is working for."

SOCH intends to keep up the pressure until Mr. Onorato and UPMC implement a plan that provides critically needed emergency care to Braddock and the surrounding communities.

SOURCE Save Our Community Hospitals
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