A Milestone That Nearly Didn’t Happen

Westfield Memorial Hospital’s “can-do” attitude was on display again last week when it officially opened its renovated emergency department. Dressed in red, hospital administrators, employees and board members celebrated a major investment in not only the health care of the residents in the Westfield area, but a facility that was in question more than a decade ago.

It was in 2006 when the Berger Commission issued a report calling for closures of hospitals across the state. Westfield was in its sights.

That never deterred those overseeing the operation — or the dedicated volunteers. At the time, they did not maintain the status quo. They instead looked for new options and partnerships, including teaming up with the Allegheny Health Network and Saint Vincent Hospital in Erie, Pa.

It strengthened their position in the health-care world.

But back to the color red, it was almost a rallying call across the community: Renovate our Emergency Department. Many answered the call through donations.

“We’re so excited to be celebrating the opening of this beautiful new emergency department,” said Helen Baran, chair of the Westfield Memorial Hospital board of directors. “Today is a day for all of Westfield and its surrounding communities to be proud of with the generosity of so many making this possible. We don’t have a ribbon long enough to include the hundreds of donors who contributed to the project championed by the work of our amazing foundation, including its immediate past president, Rose Van Volkenburg and its executive director, Patricia Gaughan DiPalma.”

As many other rural hospitals continue to struggle with the changing health-care landscape, Westfield has more than weathered a storm. And, residents will continue to benefit.