Jeannette officials enter Monsour building with warrant
By Richard Gazarik and Amanda Dolasinski
Published: Friday, November 9, 2012, 10:28 a.m.
Updated: Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Jeannette officials are removing records from the abandoned Monsour Medical Center to see if the canister-like building left vacant along Route 30 more than six years ago is a hazard.
City Solicitor Scott Avolio obtained a search warrant to enter and inspect the building with a code enforcement officer and fire department officials Friday morning.
Shortly after entering the building, authorities said they found a box of patient records from 2006 when the hospital closed after a number of failed state inspections.
“There's open medical documents, patient names, dates of birth, phone numbers and Social Security numbers,” said code enfocement officer Ed Howley. “It has the illnesses they were in (the hospital) for. That can be used by identity-theft people.”
Avolio said he does not have the legal authority to remove patient records, but will inventory them and notify the state's Attorney General Office. He said that the state could contract with a private agency to remove the records and store them or destroy them.
“They have not confirmed whether they'll be able to do that yet,” Avolio said.
City officials said they were concerned that records contained confidential, personal and financial information may have been left unsecured in the buildings at the complex.
The main building is a favorite haunt of squatters and vandals. Officials said they fear that personal information of former patients could fall into the hands of identity thieves.
City officials have condemned the building, but they said the city does not have $250,000 to $1 million needed to demolish it.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has opened an investigation on how patient records were handled when Monsour closed.
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Ok, let me get this straight. “There’s open medical documents, patient names, dates of birth, phone numbers and Social Security numbers,” said code enfocement officer Ed Howley. “It has the illnesses they were in (the hospital) for. That can be used by identity-theft people.” Yet, there is nothing that the City of Jeannette can do to remove the records. So maybe it would have been a better idea to keep this fact under wraps rather than to publish it in the newspaper so that all the would-be identity thieves know exactly where to go to score a big haul. Nice work!