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A Pennsylvania healthcare company that once enjoyed doing business in Springfield is now refusing to meet even the minimum standards for the dilapidated building it left behind.

With any luck, Vibra Healthcare’s ties to the city will be severed, and a more responsible party – the city itself – will do what is necessary to ensure that the 1400 State Street building does not continue to pose a danger to the many people in its neighborhood, including students at two nearby public schools.

Last week, Springfield went to court to force Vibra to better protect the building from vandals and squatters. The city’s fire marshal, BJ Calvi, sees the building, which has no functioning fire protection system, as a “terrible disaster” that is on the verge of collapse. Buildings like this, he said, are killing firefighters.

Vibra lost interest in the property, the former Springfield Municipal Hospital, after it became too expensive to bring up to modern health standards after it was acquired by another company. The last patients Vibra had cared for under a contract with the state health department moved out last August. In November, the city announced it had reached an agreement with Vibra to acquire the 17-acre site for $1.

This looked promising for Springfield, in part because of the sprawling site’s potential for economic development – even though the site is burdened by the presence of old buildings, some of which have not been used for years.

The west end of the main building at 1400 State Street in Springfield shows broken windows and vandalism due to unsecured access to the property. (Dave Canton / The Republican)

The cost of preparing the site for new use will be significant—and that’s probably why Vibra failed to find a buyer when it put the hospital site up for sale for $2.2 million.

The city government hoped to close the deal soon after the announcement last November. But since then, Mayor Domenic J. Sarno said last week, Vibra has not responded to the city’s request to address safety concerns. The private company, which describes itself online as a “trustworthy and competent health care provider,” was unwilling to answer questions from The Republican.

Just hours before Sarno held a press conference at the building on Friday, the first-floor windows were covered with plywood panels. But even that disappointed officials. Calvi, the fire marshal, pointed out that the boards could easily be removed, making the building accessible to unauthorized visitors. Firefighters are barred from entering the empty building for their own safety.

The city was left with no choice but to go back to the housing court. The problem is that this probably won’t make Vibra the responsible corporate citizen it already isn’t.