(Photo from https://twitter.com/HUHospitalPHL/media)
Now that the PA Health Department has issued a cease and desist order to the owner of Hahnemann University Hospital — delaying its proposed shuttering for at least 90 days — the next three months will be a whirlwind of negotiations to try to save the perennially beleaguered hospital, 2,700 jobs and the health care that it provides uninsured city residents.
A letter from the Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Rachel Levine stated that closure without a state approved plan “may cause irreparable harm to the health and safety of patients.”
“Everyone is stressed. The 90-day hold is a blessing. You don’t have to worry about August 25th being your last paycheck, ” said Regina Franklin, a 28 year Hahnemann employee and District 1199C union delegate. District 1199C, represents 700 of the 2,700 impacted workers. “The questions that are being asked now are about what’s going to happen. People want to know, where’s Joel?”
Franklin is referring to Joel Freedman, CEO and president of American Academic Health Systems. Today, The Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals (PASNAP). which represents 800 registered nurses at Hahnemann University Hospital, plans to rally outside Freedman’s Rittenhouse Square home “to demand that [Freedman] come to the table and find a way to save the historic institution.”
“This relief from the Governor is a move in the right direction,” said District 1199C executive vice president Chris Woods. The next step, according to Woods is to find a more permanent solution of either a new owner or increased state involvement.
The prime concern is pumping more money into a hospital which is hemorrhaging profits.
“To date, my administration has been working with the hospital’s leadership, particularly pertaining to delaying their payments on the Philadelphia Health assessment and the Statewide Hospital assessment to provide them financial flexibility to avoid closure,” Gov. Tom Wolf said in his cease and desist announcement.
In January 2018, Tenet Healthcare Corp. sold Hahnemann University Hospital and St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children for $170 million to American Academic Health System which is an affiliate of the California investment firm, Paladin Healthcare.
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Hahnemann University Hospital was once a major academic medical center in Philadelphia with specialties including bariatric surgery, cardiac services, and gender reassignment surgery.
From early on in Jude’s life, he felt that something was not quite right. In 2017, Jude decided to undergo gender reassignment surgery at Hahnemann. Hear Jude's story. https://t.co/1OZnivZ0yq pic.twitter.com/ksZxZWk2Yb
— Hahnemann University Hospital (@HUHospitalPHL) October 19, 2018
At the time, Tenet reported that the two facilities had $790 million in net revenue and operating losses of $15 million and the new owners said that their first step would be to conduct a listening tour to listed to the various stakeholders.
This April, when American Academic Health Systems, announced a round of labor cuts, Freedman told the Philadelphia Business Journal that Hahnemann was losing $3 to $5 million a month while St Christopher Hospital for Children was making a $1.5 million to $2 million per month profit, primarily because all children in Pennsylvania are insured.
Beyond jobs, a critical concern is providing care for poor city residents. PASNAP president Maureen May, RN, said a closure of a safety-net hospital that serves an underserved community would be a public health emergency.
“This is in a city where every hospital has wait times well above the state and national averages,” she said. “No Philadelphia hospital can absorb the increased volume that would follow a closure without compromising the quality of care they are able to provide.”
“Our own members won’t have healthcare coverage after six months if Hahnemann closes,” added Woods.
“This action by the Department of Health was undertaken to ensure the people who rely on the emergency medicine and other services at Hahnemann University Hospital are not suddenly left without care, and its employees aren’t left without jobs,” said Gov. Wolf.-30-
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