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Swann visits Tyrone Hospital to tout his views on tort reform

Republican gubernatorial candidate Lynn Swann was in Tyrone yesterday to meet with officials and doctors at Tyrone Hospital.
Swann met privately with hospital administrators and staff. He also took a brief tour of the facility. The former Steeler-great turned politician gave staffers and others a thrill by posing for a group photo and signing a few autographs.
Swann used the opportunity to outline what a press release dubbed “the urgent need for tort reform and for the enactment of the ‘Fair Share Act’ in Pennsylvania.”
After the tour, he held a brief press conference to discuss tort reform and other healthcare issues.
The candidate said, “Under a Swann Administration, I will ensure Pennsylvanians have access to quality healthcare, and tort reform will be a key building block in that plan. The Fair Share Act will provide average Pennsylvanians with economic opportunity, job security, and access to better healthcare across the Commonwealth.”
Swann noted, “Despite Ed Rendell’s pledge to enact tort reform during his 2002 campaign, the Governor’s recent veto of the Fair Share Act has put Pennsylvania healthcare providers on life support. This administration had four years to help hospitals like Tyrone Hospital – but didn’t – instead it put special interests over the best interests of Pennsylvanians.”
Swann also noted if he were elected the Commonwealth would join 43 other states that have passed legislation “to reform our liability laws, curb lawsuit abuse, and provide Pennsylvanians with better healthcare.”
After Swann’s comments and a brief question and answer session from the media, Walter S. Van Dyke, Chief Executive Officer of Tyrone Hospital said he was honored to have the candidate at the hospital.
“I think he learned a lot about rural healthcare,” said Van Dyke. “We’re a rural hospital, a small hospital, we’re a critical access hospital. We’re needed and I think he (Swann) picked up on that. I think it was a worthwhile visit.”
Van Dyke said Swann didn’t specifically mention a recent jury award against the hospital. Earlier this year, a jury awarded $4 million in a negligence case involving the birth of Jacob Mayhue in 1995. The award was 20 percent against the hospital and 80 percent against a doctor. The hospital’s insurance would cover the 20 percent. However, the hospital is faced with having to pay 80 percent or more, according to Van Dyke, if the doctor can’t pay for his share.
Earlier, Swann had said, “We have to make sure hospitals like (Tyrone) aren’t going to suffer or maybe go out of business because of one adverse case when their percent of liability is very, very small, but their ability to pay means they have the deeper pockets and end up being responsible for a larger and unfair share…”
Van Dyke said attorneys have filed a petition to reduce the amount of the award and have requested a new trial with a $2 million cap. He said he expected there might be a dialogue between both sides in the case. He said he was not aware of any date for a judge to hear the hospital’s petition.