(Photo by Lynette Hazelton)
As part of its “orderly” winding down process, American Academic Health System (AAHS), owners of Hahnemann University Hospital, called a halt to all child deliveries starting today, fueling more outrage and protest.
Amid angry cries of “Patients over Profits” yesterday City Councilwoman Helen Gym charged the diverse crowd of protesters — social activists, union members, hospital workers and politicians — with a call to action.
Gym told the crowd that 800 Hahnemann patients are expected to deliver in the next four weeks. Over the next 48 hours, she urged, flood Governor Tom Wolf’s office with phone calls to keep Hahnemann’s maternity ward in operation. “We have to put some grit in it. This is what democracy looks like,” Gym yelled.
About 40 percent of the 135,000 annual births in Pennsylvania are to poor women on Medicaid according to The Hospital and Health Systems Association of Pennsylvania. That’s the very population of patients that protestors say will be most harmed by the hospital’s closing. [Editor’s note: Read about the maternity care crisis in Philadelphia here.]
Yesterday’s rally was the largest yet as hundreds blocked mid-day Broad St. traffic while hurling epitaphs at AAHS’ CEO Joel Freedman. The protest was also the latest action in an effort to keep Hahnemann from closing in early September.
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On Wednesday, a Philadelphia judge issued a preliminary injunction which stops the hospital from closing without a plan authorized by the city health commissioner, but the hospital continues winding down operations having already closed its ER department to high-level trauma cases.
According to research from Morgan Stanley, 15 percent of American hospitals are at risk of closing and most are based in six states including Pennsylvania. Most, like Hahnemann, cite severe financial challenges.-30-
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