It’s a city that’s already plagued by violent crime. But now officials fear the problems in Chester will only get worse thanks to a controversial decision from a local hospital.
“The bottom line is we are going to get treated a lot worse,” said Chester Police Commissioner Joe Bail. “I have a problem with that.”
Bail, along with Chester Mayor John Linder say they met with officials from the Crozer-Keystone Health System about two and a half weeks ago. During the meeting, Bail says they were informed that Crozer would pull an ambulance from the city from 9 p.m. to 9 a.m., starting on September 5. Chester currently only has two ambulances and a population of 34,000 people, meaning only one will be available to cover the entire area during that time.
Both Bail and Linder are outraged.
“The problem is, that time of night is when we get some of the most critical calls,” Bail said. “The shootings and some of the horrific accidents we get on the Interstate.”
Mayor Linder agrees.
“We are at a critical time in our city where crime is a primary issue,” Linder said. “To lose any resource is a threat and is scary.”
Linder and Bail claim Crozer officials told them the move was a cost-cutting measure, even though Crozer is the 15th largest grossing hospital in the nation. Grant Gegwich, the Vice President of Public Relations and Marketing for Crozer-Keystone, addressed the decision in a written statement.
“A formal plan has not yet been implemented,” he wrote. “However, it includes consolidation in the overnight hours-when emergency medical services are under-utilized. This provision was incorporated after detailed monitoring of EMS usage and is not expected to affect the services we provide our community.”
Linder and Bail disagree however.
“The people here deserve better,” Bail said.
Both the Mayor and Police Commissioner say they’ll start hiring more police officers. They also plan to provide more officers medical training.