PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Hahnemann University Hospital will be closing in September and lawmakers are calling on Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf to save the hospital. Philadelphia Academic Health System, the hospital’s parent company, said Wednesday the hospital that employs 2,500 workers will close on or about Sept. 6 due to continuing and unsustainable financial losses.
“Our goal in acquiring the hospitals was to help them both flourish and provide world-class care,” said Joel Freedman, founder and president of PAHS. “We relentlessly pursued numerous strategic options to keep Hahnemann in operation, and have been uncompromising in our commitment to our staff, patients, and community. We are saddened our efforts have not been successful, and we are faced with the heartbreaking reality that Hahnemann cannot continue to lose millions of dollars each month and remain in business.”
State lawmakers are calling on Wolf to step in to keep the hospital operating. Lawmakers in the state House and Senate didn’t mince words Wednesday.
In a letter to Wolf, they said the impending closure is a “bona fide public health emergency.” That’s because the hospital is a Level 1 trauma center.
Wolf responded, saying, “Another payment model was offered along with a requirement for the hospital to undergo a performance audit, which would identify any financial concerns and ways to improve performance and make the hospital financially sustainable. To date, Hahnemann has not responded to that offer.”
Alice Black, of South Philadelphia, has been coming to Hahnemann University Hospital by Broad and Vine Streets for years, but she had no idea the facility intended to close until she was told by Eyewitness News.
“I guess we wonder what they’re gonna do with us, so many people go here,” Black said.
The Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals, Hahnemann’s nurses union, points out that as a Level 1 hospital in the heart of Philadelphia, Hahnemann provides care to the city’s most underserved populations. Without Hahnemann, the nurses union believes lower-income people may not get care, or other facilities could become overwhelmed.
“Other hospitals will be swarmed with patients they can’t take care of effectively. Philadelphia’s ER wait times are already higher than the national wait times by far,” registered nurse Dylan Toolajian said.
That’s why the Philadelphia House and Senate delegations sent the letter to Wolf, requesting emergency funding for the hospital and its 2,500 employees.
But Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said the city already tried working with Hahnemann’s owner, Joel Freedman, to no avail.
“We’ve been working for the last three months and working different ways we can make this work. And he’s not been forthcoming with financial information that would allow us to plan,” Kenney said.
PAHS said in a statement that the hospital will “immediately begin an orderly wind down of its inpatient and outpatient treatment services in conjunction with a comprehensive closure plan” and that they are working with city and state officials.
The union, which represents 800 registered nurses at Hahnemann, immediately expressed support for the Philadelphia Legislative Delegation’s proposal that Wolf and the Department of Health intervene immediately. The union also wants Philadelphia City Council and Kenney to make sure the historic property will remain a hospital rather than being used as real estate.
The union says these steps can help bring all stakeholders together and facilitate a sale to Drexel University or another “responsible” buyer.
“Hahnemann is a safety-net hospital that for decades has provided care to and under-served community,” said PASNAP President Maureen May. “We cannot allow predatory, for-profit companies to plunder such a valuable public good. It is incumbent upon the State and City to step in a guarantee that the poor and working people who depend upon this hospital continue to receive the care that they need.”
Freedman said St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, which his company also owns, will remain open.