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Historic sign saved from Coyle Theater building in Charleroi

CHARLEROI – Workers peeled a historic sign from the Coyle Theater in Charleroi as the building was under demolition Friday.

The sign dating to about 1910 was bent in the process, but it was salvageable, workers at the site said.

“It’s staying in Charleroi,” borough councilman Mark Alterici said about the sign.

The plan was to store the sign, along with about a dozen seats, in the borough building behind the property at 331 McKean Ave., said Ben Brown, chief executive officer of Mon Valley Alliance, the owner of the theater and neighboring property.

“We’re going to be restoring it,” Brown said.

The sign will be repurposed at a yet to be determined public location, he said.

The removal of the sign signaled the end of an era following numerous failed attempts over decades to return the nearly 1,000-seat theater to its glory.

Contractors have begun demolition of the building.

“Very sad to see,” said Nikki Sheppick of the Charleroi Area Historical Society, which was among the groups that attempted to save the building.

The Coyle was built in 1891 as an opera house, and was later enlarged as a movie palace with a balcony. The theater went dark in 1999 with a showing of the movie “Titanic.”

The alliance purchased the theater and two neighboring buildings in 2016. The economic development group considered restoring the theater, but those plans were scrapped in July.

“The hope is going to be what is reborn there,” Brown said.


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Avella will honor woman who gave her life to save another at Fort Hood massacre

Ten years after tragedy struck the military community at Fort Hood, Texas, a heroine who lost her life saving another soldier will be honored by her former hometown.

Early next month, part of Route 50 in Avella will be officially named for Lt. Col. Juanita Warman, who was among 13 people murdered Nov. 5, 2009, at the U.S. Army base near Killeen, Texas, in an episode of domestic terrorism.

In preparation for a ceremony scheduled for 11 a.m. Nov. 2, the Washington County commissioners honored Warman with a proclamation, which they presented Thursday to members of her family.

The gathering on what the commissioners proclaimed “Lt. Col. Juanita Warman Day” will take place at Avella Volunteer Fire Department.

As a child, Warman lived in Avella, where she attended elementary and junior high school. A graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, she was a psychiatric nurse practitioner specializing in the care of those recovering from post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.

Warman was just days away from being deployed to Iraq when the shooting rampage began.

“Juanita Warman was prepared to sacrifice her life for her country,” said Col. Sam Wagner, U.S. Army casualty assistance officer assigned to Warman’s family after her death. “She was not expecting to get killed in Fort Hood.”

She sacrificed her life to save another soldier.

A threesome among those in a processing center heard shots. Col. Warman and another military member threw a third soldier to the ground, who survived, Wagner said. The two atop did not.

Warman and her daughter, Melissa Ann Papst, now of Washington, formerly lived in Peters Township. Papst, a 1999 graduate of Peters Township High School, recalled her mother as “very thoughtful, very helpful. She loved helping people.

“She really cared about people and she wanted to make a difference.”

The comrade whose life she saved is expected to attend the ceremony in Avella, along with Four-Star Gen. George W. Casey, who was Army chief of staff when the massacre occurred.

Nidal Hasan, now 49, confessed to the slayings and woundings in 2013. Victims included military personnel and civilians.

Hasan was an Army major until he was stripped of his rank. He awaits execution on 13 counts of murder and the attempted murder of 32 people.


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Former Washington Hospital patient, husband win $15M in negligence suit

A Charleroi woman and her husband were awarded more than $15 million in a lawsuit they brought against Washington Health System and two doctors who were found to have committed medical errors when they treated her at Washington Hospital six years ago.

Washington County Common Pleas Judge Michael J. Lucas calculated the award based largely on the past and future expenses and lost earnings of Alyssa McLaughlin, 35, who has a neurological injury that will require her to receive at-home nursing care for the rest of her life.

He also awarded $2.5 million to William McLaughlin, her husband, for loss of consortium in his Oct. 11 decision. The total award comes to $15.055 million.

Lucas cited a video depicting a day in McLaughlin’s life that showed the care she receives daily from her mother-in-law and husband, her difficulty eating, her inability to read because of her double vision and the fact that she doesn’t drive.

“This trial court finds that Mrs. McLaughlin has endured and will continue to encounter pain, suffering, inconvenience, the loss of the ability to enjoy life and life’s pleasures, humiliation and disfigurement,” Lucas wrote in a 21-page opinion supporting the verdict.

He found Dr. Amit Nahata and Dr. Jessie Ganjoo – who were described in the opinion as having staff privileges at the hospital, but not being employees there – were negligent in the care they offered her when she was admitted to the hospital twice in June 2013.

He also found that the two physicians shared the blame for causing McLaughlin’s injuries, with three-quarters of the fault ascribed to Nahata and the remainder attributed to Ganjoo, and that the hospital could be held liable for their actions because they were its “ostensible agents.”

McLaughlin was first flown by medical helicopter there after initially going to Mon Valley Hospital when she experienced blurry vision and a headache and then a seizure. Tests showed she had high blood pressure and neurological abnormalities. Her second visit occurred days later when she again reported visual problems and a headache. Her blood pressure was again elevated.

She was diagnosed with posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome, a neurological condition.

Her second stay ended after two days, when she was transferred to UPMC-Mercy hospital in Pittsburgh, where she spent more than three weeks before she was transferred to a skilled nursing facility for several more weeks. Next, she stayed for a month at Mercy’s inpatient rehabilitation unit before she could return home.

Lucas wrote that during the weeks between her admission to Mercy and her return home, she remained unresponsive for days; needed feeding tubes; was unable to follow commands or participate in therapy for transfers and balance; couldn’t report pain or discomfort; had “limited ability to stand or ambulate” and experienced other problems.

Attorney Ronald Puntil Jr., who represented Nahata and Ganjoo, didn’t immediately return a message Friday afternoon. Tom Chairs, the lawyer who represented the hospital and Washington Health System, referred questions to the system.

“We are in the midst of ongoing litigation, so I’m not in a position to comment,” Chairs said.

A date has not been set for a separate trial to resolve a cross-claim the health system filed against Dialysis Clinic Inc. – a Tennessee-based treatment network that employs Nahata and Ganjoo – in which the health care entities are wrangling over which of them is liable. A date for that proceeding has not been set.

The health system said in an email that it respected the judge’s verdict.

“Upon learning of Mrs. McLaughlin’s injuries, Washington Health System took steps to financially assist them and work towards an amicable resolution,” the statement read, in part.

But Dialysis Clinic “refused to meaningfully participate in efforts to compensate the McClaughlins” before the trial, the email continued, so “Washington Health System, the independent physician defendants and the McLaughlins were forced to engage in proceedings that all were hoping to avoid.”

Lucas’ opinion supporting the award identified a series of decisions by Nahata and Ganjoo which he described as breaches of the normal standard of care for someone with Alyssa McLaughlin’s symptoms.

Lucas cited the opinion of Dr. Eric Brown, a board certified specialist in nephrology and internal medicine, that Nahata’s decision to discharge McLaughlin for the first time – with instructions to monitor her own blood pressure – as “premature and inappropriate.”

“Dr. Brown concluded that discharging Mrs. McLaughlin without anti-hypertensive medication and with inadequate discharge instructions was a gross deviation from the standard of care,” Lucas added.

At another point, Lucas found that evidence showed Ganjoo ordered McLaughlin receive certain medications during her second trip to Washington Hospital. He wrote that Brown called those orders “a ‘clear’ and ‘obvious’ deviation from the standard of care.”