Monsour Medical Center - Abandoned by Sherman Cahal

Monsour Medical Center

The Monsour Medical Center, located in Jeannette, Pennsylvania, was founded in 1952 by Howard, Roy, Robert and William Monsour as a roadside clinic in “Senator Brown’s Mansion.”After years of controversy, the hospital was demolished in 2016.

The roadside clinic, which began as a six-bed operation,had expanded to 100 beds by 1958. In 1968, a coronary care unit was added,1 followed by a medical tower in the early 1970’s that was to be part of a two tower complex.6

In an effort to broaden the Monsour brand, the Monsour Academy of Medicine was established in 1971 to recruit distinguished speakers on related medical topics.1 In 1975, the Monsour brothers transferred ownership to the Monsour Medical Foundation.1

Monsour Medical Center filed for bankruptcy protection in 1980 and emerged from bankruptcy in 1988. A 1989 reorganization plan called for a $19 million bond issue to resolve outstanding debt to resolve issues regarding the construction of a $2 million medical arts building across U.S. Route 30.1

The hospital filed for bankruptcy for a second time in 1991, with the hospital going into a court appointed receivership.1 Howard Monsour purchased the bond payments that was acquired in 1989 for a discounted price of $3 million in 1992 but failed to make the required monthly payments.3 The hospital was transferred from a court appointed trustee to a new board of directors in 1993.

Howard regained control of the hospital board in 2000. Monsour Medical Center sought bankruptcy protection for a third time in March 2001, listing $1 million in liabilities; it was also behind $250,000 in state taxes.6 13 Monsour had diverted money for taxes to cover basic operating expenses. The hospital emerged from bankruptcy on November 21, 2003 after a settlement plan was approved. As part of the plan, Chief Executive Officer Richard Adams proposed to rename Monsour Medical Center to the Doctors Hospital of Westmoreland County, claiming that the new brand had a more “positive ring.” Other improvements were planned, including a multimillion-dollar renovation to the hospital,  new equipment and new doctors.9 After the board refused to carry out any recommendations, Adams resigned in January 2004.

Shortly after, the Pennsylvania Department of Health revoked the hospital’s two year operating license due to failure to comply with regulations.1 Monsour was issued the first of four six-month provisional licenses on the contingency that its regulatory policies would eventually improve. A pain clinic at Monsour closed on July 11 after under suspicious circumstances 8 when two of its doctors, Dr. Emilio Navarro and Dr. Andrezj Zielke, were fired. The hospital learned the duo had planned on starting a competing pain management clinic in West Newton. The clinic reopened shortly after under new a new director.

Monsour filed for bankruptcy for the fourth and final time on October 14.11 The financial stability of the hospital had deteriorated in recent months due to the temporary loss of the pain clinic.

In February 2005,9 Monsour announced plans to form a new cardiology and geriatric medicine program to increase revenues in a bid to save the hospital and its 270 employees.5 The hospital listed debts of $40 million. A federal bankruptcy judge dismissed the bankruptcy case against Monsour in March after the hospital was notified that it was receiving $2.5 million in financing from an unidentified investor.14 At the conclusion of the bankruptcy process, the hospital hired John Bukovac as Chief Executive Officer only to fire him just three months later.1 Shortly after, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield noted that it would no longer pay for non-emergency care at the hospital due to ongoing financial issues.

On August 17, Michael Monsour, the eldest son of Howard Monsour, was named Chief Executive Officer and chairman of the board of directors.1 12 In September, Monsour received its fourth provisional license; because of state law, no more than four provisional licenses in a series could be issued.

In a November 28 memo to physicians, Michael proposed to sell part or all of the hospital to physicians in exchange for 50% ownership.7 For $24,000, the doctors could own a stake in the “transformation of Monsour into a specialty surgical hospital.” Under the $7 million idea, the physicians could use five of the tower’s seven floors to set up surgical practices in neurology, orthopedics, podiatry, plastic surgery, cardiology and general surgery. The reimagined facility would have five operating rooms, 20 short stay impatient beds, an imaging center and a lab with a capacity of 45 surgeries a day. The hospital would generate $13 million in profits in the first year.

The pain clinic closed on December 15 after two Pennsylvania Health Department inspections found a large number of violations in regards to patient safety, confidentiality and the control of drugs.1 The hospital was then cited for seven regulatory violations during an inspection in January 2006 when the hospital had just seven patients.1 5 The state threatened to withhold a new operating license and instead issued a limited operating license on March 15 which prohibited Monsour from performing surgeries and administering anesthesia. The number of beds was reduced to 66 due to the restrictions, including 12 for medical patients and six for intensive-care patients.5 The hospital notified the state that it would not accept the limited license due to liability risks, closing the next day with just 20 patients.1 5

Westmoreland Priority foreclosed on the hospital in fall 2007, claiming that it was owed $35 million.3 The interest alone from the 1989 bond sale had accumulated to $19 million. A sheriff’s sale that was planned for January 7, 2008 was blocked in December 2007 by Westmoreland County Judge Gary Caruso, which allowed the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation to intervene. The company noted that it had $732,000 in unpaid pension contributions from the hospital;3 it had an agreement with Howard Monsour that he would not have the hospital foreclosed upon without the written permission of the state government and that the permission was never granted. Caruso also allowed a local union to intervene because it believed that it was owed $472,000 in contributions that the hospital failed to make to the pensions for the employees represented by the union for the past six years.6

A waiting room on the fifth floor of the tower caught fire on June 9, 2011.2 The blaze, contained within 15 minutes, caused smoke damage throughout the floor. There was another fire on the upper floors on October 8.4

Later in the month, the next completed medical arts building across from the hospital was sold to S&T Bank at a county sheriff sale.4


Frustrated by failed attempts to have the Monsour family demolish the deteriorated hospital, the city of Jeannette and Westmoreland County signed an agreement of cooperation to work together to secure and begin demolition of the Monsour Medical Center in December 2013.15 The county applied for a $1 million state grant to tear down Monsour in January 2014 and began making moves to gain ownership of the property through a “free and clear” sale held by a county judge by notifying lien holders of their intent. It cost only $15,000 for the property.16

The city obtained some private funding via the Neighborhood Partnership Program and began demolition of two dilapidated houses near the former hospital in late January 2014.15 On February 23, 2016, the main hospital complex was knocked down over a period of two days.16

Sources

16 Comments

  1. for having been a patient back in 2004 looking at those pictures of the fire on the fifth floor sent chills up my spine

  2. Oh wow. I drove past this place almost every day of my young life. It’s so creepy to see what became of it.

  3. I just moved up here to Pennsylvania and i drove by that hospital and my little boy said mommy that hospital looks like scary place for people to go to.

  4. I was born there in 1979. I have only seen it twice in my life due to my family moving to Florida after I was born. Once in 2013 and again July 2015. It is a very strange feeling to see my birth place look like something out of a horror film and also very sad. Wish I could have seen it when it was open.

  5. Does anyone know where the Physician residency training records went?

  6. I was there in 2003 for health problems and to see what I seen in pictures I was so devastated…..I just want to now where did all the medical records go that was left in that hospital ? Is my question

  7. My son and I were patients there in the mid 1970’s. I would like to be able to receive both mine and my son’s records from the hospital so I know they are seccure and no one can get them. Does anyone know who I need to contact. I live in North Carolina now.

  8. My Father was a patient–In the real early years–I’m in need of his medical records–HELP ANYONE!!! Any help–contact at JWSBirdman@aol.com Jeff Smith–Regarding Gerald E Smith Thanks so much in advance!

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