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West Penn's ER is invaluable to our community

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The news of West Penn Hospital closing its emergency room is of great concern to me and my neighbors, as well as the thousands of people who call West Penn "their" hospital ("Major Cutbacks Ahead at West Penn Hospital," June 30).

I clearly understand the need for financial responsibility, strategic planning and consistent cash flow. I am also painfully aware of the current state of health care in the United States. With that in mind, it is also known that competition is healthy for any business -- nonprofit and for-profit.

My primary care provider is located at Mellon Pavilion, within West Penn Hospital. While this practice has extended hours and is even available most Saturdays, my family has still had need for emergency room services. The relationship between my PCP and the ER is an important part of my continuity of care.

The next closest ER in my community is a UPMC hospital. I suspect that the care is good, but we will lose the continuity of care that we currently enjoy. We will lose the ability to have our primary care provider's attending physician see us as an inpatient, and we will not have the current fast and efficient flow of information and follow-up.

I worry that Pittsburgh is about to have a single choice for health care. A one health-care system region is unhealthy on many levels -- physically, economically, educationally and morally.

Surely there are enough thinkers and planners and investors in Pittsburgh to save West Penn Hospital's emergency room. Surely, we do not want to hand all of our health care to one system. Surely Pittsburgh is large enough and smart enough and proud enough to keep the competition alive.

Oh, yes ... and 1,500 jobs lost is not exactly crying out "most livable city."

JANE MILLER
Friendship

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