Sunbury rehab center

Robert Inglis/The Daily Item Sunbury Community Health and Rehab Center administrator Teresa Flowers watches Martha M. Witmer go through her exercises with PTA Janelle Hockenbrock inside the UPMC Susquehanna Sunbury Hospital.

SUNBURY — Twenty employees will be out of work and 21 residents will be relocated after Thursday's announcement that Sunbury Community Health and Rehabilitation will close at the end of March.

The rehabilitation center, owned and operated by Kling Health Services, LP, is located on the second floor of UPMC Susquehanna Sunbury, 350 N. 11th St.

According to a news release, "approximately 22 employees of Sunbury Community Health and Rehabilitation will be laid off and approximately 21 residents will be discharged to other local nursing facilities."

Last month, center officials said they expected to fulfill a 20-year lease at the facility signed seven years ago.

“We were made aware of the closing of UPMC Sunbury on Dec. 4, 2019, and immediately began working with UPMC leadership and the Pennsylvania Department of Health to determine next steps,” said Dave Klingerman, president of Kling Health Services, LP. “The safety, security and comfort of our residents is our top priority, and given the future sale of the building, we believe it is in the best interest of our residents and families to discontinue operations.”

The employees of Sunbury Community Health and Rehabilitation were notified of the closure today.

"I know our facility was an asset to the community of Sunbury and it was a privilege for my staff and myself to care for our residents," said Teresa Flowers, home administrator.

Residents and their families received 30-days’ written notice of discharge on Thursday. The facility is collaborating with other facilities in the region to find placement for these residents, according to rehab center officials.

One resident's daughter was concerned, she said.

"We got a call from Sunbury Rehab were my mom was for three years and was told she had to move out by the end of next week," Michaela Bonawitz, of State College, said. "We are very concerned about this process. We were told this would end next week and after I spoke to the rehab center we have 30 days but we are not sure where she will end up."

Bonawitz said she is saddened by the closure. "My mom loved it there," she said. "She has been there for so long and it is so personal. We thought about moving her out after we heard of the closure and my mom said no because she liked it there so much."

Sunbury Mayor Kurt Karlovich said he hopes UPMC is paying attention to to the effects of the hospital's closure.

"It's is a shame that this company is leaving," Karlovich said. "I understand the safety concerns when the majority of the hospital is empty. I truly hope that UPMC comes up with a plan of action in the near future because they have affected much more than just their UPMC organization.

"I am saddened for the company that is closing and its residents in a time when these people who need help are being uprooted."

Klingerman said in the release it was a pleasure to serve the community in Sunbury for the past seven years.

“As a five-star CMS ranked facility, our employees have been second to none in providing outstanding care. We are dedicated to helping them connect with local resources to find new employment," he said.

Sunbury Councilman Chris Reis said he feels for the employees.

"It is a shame to see that business closing up and those employees and residents being taken away from their livelihood," he said. "I can imagine the news of UPMC closing made it difficult to see the long-term plan for them making their decision a tough one to make. I know there are a lot of people within our city and beyond that are fighting to find a suitable use with UPMC for that building and I am eager as a taxpayer and council member to hear what those next steps are from UPMC."