Gas field workers cited in Pa. hospital’s losses (12/24/12:AP)

Dec 24, 2012: Written by Associated Press

JERSEY SHORE, Pa. – The first operating loss in about five years at a north-central Pennsylvania hospital is a sign of the influx of natural gas field workers without health insurance, the facility’s CEO said.

Jersey Shore Hospital president and CEO Carey Plummer told the Sun-Gazette of Williamsport that many subcontractors attracted to the area’s Marcellus Shale drilling boom do not cover employees.

That has brought a growing number of uninsured people to the community-owned, nonprofit hospital, Plummer said.

“We had a loss,” Plummer said. “I don’t think it’s a sign of the economy. I think it’s the influx of the gas, industry and those who lack insurance.”

The hospital reported an operating loss of $770,000 while providing more than $3 million in care to people unable to pay in its most recent fiscal year. The uncompensated care figure is the highest it has ever seen.

Other significant factors contributing to the hospital’s losses include cuts in Medicaid reimbursements, employee salary increases and higher pension costs, Plummer said.

Jersey Shore is about 65 miles north of Pennsylvania’s capital of Harrisburg. The hospital says its service area covers about 45,000 people in Clinton and Lycoming counties. It reported 3,260 acute care days, 67,691 outpatient visits and 14, 835 emergency room visits in the most recent fiscal year.

With about 660 wells, Lycoming County is the fourth most heavily drilled county in the Marcellus Shale rush that began in earnest in 2008, according to state records. The footprint in Clinton County is smaller, with just under 100 since then. The state’s two most heavily drilled counties, Tioga and Bradford, are neighbors of Lycoming County.

Comments:

  • An example of the negative economic impact that drilling can have on a local economy. It is definitely not as simple as some portray it, that drilling brings jobs with no downside. Also shows that many of the jobs that are created are with subcontractors who don’t offer benefits and don’t pay well enough for the employees to pay for their own health care.
  • What are the Health Issues all of these uninsured Gas Workers are going to the hospital for?
  • Is this something the public should be alerted about? This would be a worthwhile follow up story for this article. Michael Holmstrom ·
  • Wow, the energy industry commercials made it sound like they make high paying jobs, so why does this happen? Marianne Waldow ·
  • Fracking benefits the gas industry’s profits and nothing else. Overall, fossil fuel addiction will speed climate change and increase severe, erratic weather patterns. Most fracking well construction jobs go to out of state workers and they apparently are not benefiting as much as the industry would have us believe. The water, air and land are poisoned by the fracking process, and excessive amounts of water, which would do more good for drinking and farming, are used in the process. And here is demonstrated another negative impact of fracking. Brian Oram
  • It would be nice to have more details about all the costs that impacted the bottom line. William Henry ·
  • They make good money and should be charged or put a lean on there employer.

 

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