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UPMC Pinnacle Lancaster (Courtesy UPMC Pinnacle)

One department at a time, UPMC Pinnacle is shutting down its Lancaster hospital.

The hospital has stopped accepting new physician referrals, the Pittsburgh-based health system said in a news release. 

As of Feb. 23, ambulance services will stop bringing patients to the hospital. It will instead route them to Lancaster’s other hospital — Penn Health-affiliated Lancaster General — or to UPMC PInnacle’s Litiz location, seven miles away.

The hospital’s family medicine, neurology and pain management clininc and residency program will move Feb. 27 from the hospital to the medical arts building across the street. 

The hospital’s emergency department will remain open for walk-ins until Feb. 28.

Officials at UPMC say about 70 percent of its Lancaster hospital employees will continue to work for UPMC at Lititz or elsewhere.

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Tammy Rojas of Lancaster speaks at a city council meeting, February 2019. (Brett Sholtis/Transforming Health)

UPMC has faced some criticism for its plan to shutter the 185-bed hospital two years after acquiring it by merging with Pinnacle Health.

Tammy Rojas of Lancaster-based Health Care Rights Committee says Lancaster General is already over capacity, and the UPMC Pinnacle closure will add to that problem.

Speaking to Lancaster city council, Rojas compared the closure to UPMC’s acquisition and closure of a hospital in Braddock, a blue-collar town in Allegheny County.

UPMC closed Braddock in 2010 and opened a new hospital in Monroeville, an affluent suburb about six miles away. Rojas said that’s made it harder for poorer people to access care.

Rojas said her group, which is part of Put People First! PA, will continue to hold events around the hospital closure to start a conversation about what she says are problems with the U.S. health care system.

“Even though this hospital, as of March 1, will be closed and not there, we’re still going to keep up the fight. Because until that place is sold or demolished, we still have an opportunity to make our voices heard.” 

Lancaster officials have said they’re working health system executives to find a new purpose for the soon-to-be vacant hospital campus.