The Monsour Medical Center is located in Jeannette, Pennsylvania, and was founded in 1952 by Howard, Roy, Robert and William Monsour as a roadside clinic in “Senator Brown’s Mansion” along U.S. Route 30.1 The small six-bed operation 6 expanded to 100 beds by 1958 and grew to include a coronary care unit in 1968.1 A medical tower was completed in the early 1970s 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 that attempted to recruit distinguished speakers on related medical topics.1 In 1975, the Monsour brothers transferred ownership to the Monsour Medical Foundation in 1975.1 The hospital filed for bankruptcy protection five years later and emerged from bankruptcy in 1988. A 1989 reorganization plan called for a $19 million bond issue to resolve outstanding debt and the construction of a $2 million medical arts building across U.S. Route 30.1

Financial Woes

The hospital filed for bankruptcy for a second time in 1991, going into a court appointed receivership.1 Howard Monsour purchased the bond payments that was purchased in 1989 for a discounted price of $3 million a year after but failed to make the payments after the purchase.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 who wished to have the hospital remain in the family’s hands. Monsour sought bankruptcy protection for a third time in March 2001, listing $1 million in liabilities that it was not able to owe to the Internal Revenue Service and $250,000 to the state.6 13 Monsour had used money reserved 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 name had a more “positive ring.” Other improvements were planned, including a multimillion-dollar loan to complete physical improvements to the hospital, to purchase new equipment and recruit new doctors.9 Adams resigned as CEO in January 2004 after his board refused his recommendations.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health revoked the hospital’s two year operating license due to failure to comply with regulations shortly after.1 Monsour was issued the first of four six-month provisional licenses on the contingency that its regulatory policies would eventually improve. The Pain Clinic at Monsour closed on July 11 under suspicious circumstances 8 after two of its doctors, Dr. Emilio Navarro and Dr. Andrezj Zielke, were fired after the hospital learned the pair had planned on starting a competing pain management clinic in West Newton. That was never substantiated, but the clinic reopened 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 as creditors began demanding payments, and due to the loss of revenue from the profitable Pain Clinic.

Closure

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 stated that it is receiving $2.5 million in financing from an unidentified investor.14 At the conclusion of the bankruptcy process, it hired John Bukovac as Chief Executive Officer only to fire him just three months later 1 and the forced and sudden departure was followed up with the news that Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield would no longer pay for non-emergency care at the hospital due to the ongoing financial issues.

On August 17, Michael Monsour, the eldest son of Howard, was named Chief Executive Officer and chairman of the board of directors.1 12 Monsour received its fourth and final provisional license in September and 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 proposal, 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. Monsour would have five operating rooms, 20 short stay impatient beds, an imaging center and a lab with a capacity of 45 surgeries a day and generate $13 million in profits in the first year. A $7 million renovation project was proposed to facilitate the changes.

The profitable Pain Clinic at Monsour closed on December 15 after two Pennsylvania Health Department inspections that were conducted during the summer found a large number of violations in regard 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 also reduced to 66 due to the restrictions, which included 12 for medical patients and six for intensive-care patients.5 The facility included a psychiatric treatment unit and an alcohol and drug treatment unit which would not be affected by the change. The hospital, however, notified the state that it would not accept the limited license due to liability risks. Monsour Medical Center closed the day after with just 20 patients.1 5

Westmoreland Priority foreclosed on the hospital in fall 2007, stating 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 just one month prior by Westmoreland County Judge Gary Caruso, allowing the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation to intervene in the case who stated that it was owed $732,000 in unpaid pension contributions from the hospital 3 and noted that it had an agreement with Howard 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 Local 1199P to intervene earlier in the month 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. The lack of payments dated back to 2001.6

A waiting room on the fifth floor of the tower caught fire on June 9, 2011.2 The blaze, which was quickly contained within 15 minutes, gutted one room and caused smoke damage throughout the floor. The building did not have utilities on at the time of the fire. There was another fire on the upper floors on October 8.4

The never-completed medical arts building across U.S. Route 30 was sold to S&T Bank in October 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.

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.15

Digest

  • Name: Monsour Medical Center
  • Location: Jeannette, Pennsylvania
  • Years of Significance: 1952, 1958, 1970s
  • Status: Being Demolished

Sources

  1. “Monsour Medical Center timeline.” Tribune Review [Pittsburgh] 18 Mar. 2006: n. pag. TribLive. Web.14 Nov. 2011. Article.
  2. Andren, Kari. “Fire guts room in vacant Monsour Medical Center.” Tribune Review [Pittsburgh] 10 July 2011: n. pag. TribLive. Web.14 Nov. 2011. Article.
  3. Gazarik, Richard. “Monsour Medical Center sale blocked.” Tribune Review [Pittsburgh] 31 Dec. 2007: n. pag. TribLive. Web.14 Nov. 2011. Article.
  4. Crews Put Out Fire At Old Medical Center In Jeannette. CBS. KDKA, Pittsburgh, 8 Oct. 2011. CBS Pittsburgh. Web. Transcript. 14 Nov. 2011. Article.
  5. Cholodofsky, Rich. “Monsour Medical Center to close.” Tribune Review [Pittsburgh] 18 March 2006: n. pag. TribLive. Web.14 Nov. 2011. Article.
  6. Gazarik, Richard. “Monsour Medical Center renamed.” Tribune Review [Pittsburgh] 20 Nov. 2002: n. pag. TribLive. Web.15 Nov. 2011. Article.
  7. Gazarik, Richard. “Monsour may sell stakes in hospital.” Tribune Review [Pittsburgh] 2 Dec. 2005: n. pag. TribLive. Web.15 Nov. 2011. Article.
  8. Gazarik, Richard. “Monsour deficiencies detailed.” Tribune Review [Pittsburgh] 20 May 2004: n. pag. TribLive. Web.15 Nov. 2011. Article.
  9. Gazarik, Richard. “Monsour has plan to boost revenues.” Tribune Review [Pittsburgh] 18 Feb. 2005: n. pag. TribLive. Web.15 Nov. 2011. Article.
  10. Gazarik, Richard. “Monsour to shutter pain clinic.” Tribune Review [Pittsburgh] 15 Oct. 2005: n. pag. TribLive. Web.15 Nov. 2011. Article.
  11. Gazarik, Richard. “Monsour files for bankruptcy again.” Tribune Review [Pittsburgh] 16 Oct. 2004: n. pag. TribLive. Web.15 Nov. 2011. Article.
  12. Gazarik, Richard. “Monsour’s son takes the reins.” Tribune Review [Pittsburgh] 17 Aug. 2005: n. pag. TribLive. Web.15 Nov. 2011. Article.
  13. Gazarik, Richard. “CEO plans big changes for Monsour hospital.” Tribune Review [Pittsburgh] 14 July 2003: n. pag. TribLive. Web.15 Nov. 2011. Article.
  14. Gazarik, Richard. “Monsour’s prognosis ‘getting pretty darn serious’.” Tribune Review [Pittsburgh] 17 April 2005: n. pag. TribLive. Web.15 Nov. 2011. Article.
  15. Duncan, Debra. “State aid sought to raze Monsour Medical Center in Jeannette.” Tribune Review [Pittsburgh] 30 Jan. 2014: n. pag. TribLiveWeb. 1 Mar. 2014. Article.