Judge temporarily halts closure of Pennsylvania hospital

A Pennsylvania judge ruled that Crozer Health cannot move forward with its plan to close Delaware County Memorial Hospital next month and convert it to a behavioral healthcare hospital, according to an Oct. 11 report from NBC affiliate WACU.

The Philadelphia Business Journal reported on Oct. 11 that an injunction seeking to block the planned closure was filed on Sept. 28 by the Foundation for Delaware County in conjunction with Delaware County and the County Council.

In the ruling, Court of Common Pleas Senior Judge Robert Shenkin ordered Crozer Health to "immediately suspend any actions materially altering the present operation of Delaware County Memorial Hospital" and to maintain all services presently offered at the Drexel Hill medical center, according to the Philadelphia Business Journal. The judge also ordered representatives from Crozer Health and its parent company, Orange County, Calif.-based Prospect Medical Holdings, to meet with the foundation later this week to discuss the future of the 168-bed hospital and report back to him.

The Foundation for Delaware County was created in 2016 from about $55 million of the proceeds from the sale of the Crozer-Keystone Health System to Prospect Medical Holdings.  According to the Philadelphia Business Journal, Prospect Medical's asset purchase agreement required that the acquirer maintain acute care services at its four hospitals for 10 years, or until June 30, 2026.

The Foundation for Delaware County president Frances Sheehan told the Philadelphia Business Journal that she is pleased with the judge's ruling. 

"He recognized that closing the hospital is a clear violation of Prospect's commitment when they purchased the Crozer Keystone Health System to keep the hospitals open as acute care facilities, and that closing the hospital would be tremendously damaging to the community," Ms. Sheehan said. 

Crozer Health said in a statement to the Philadelphia Business Journal that the overall transformation plan would provide healthcare access and services based on post-pandemic operational realities and community needs.

"What we’ve done is assess what those needs are in partnership with physicians, the community, and local leaders. Through this engagement, we determined that access to community-based, high-quality, safe, and effective services are key to being responsive to the community while also addressing the changing nature of health care today," said Crozer Health CEO Anthony Esposito.

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