Philadelphia hospital ordered to 'cease and desist' closure

The Pennsylvania Department of Health ordered the owners of Hahnemann University Hospital in Philadelphia to take no steps toward closure until state regulators receive and sign off on a plan to shut down operations, according to the Philadelphia Business Journal.

On June 26, American Academic Health System announced it would close Hahnemann University Hospital Sept. 6 due to unsustainable financial losses. Hospital officials told The Philadelphia Inquirer the wind down of services at the 496-bed academic medical center would begin immediately.

News of the plan to close the hospital, which would result in roughly 2,500 jobs being eliminated, was met with pushback from the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals. The union represents 800 registered nurses at Hahnemann University Hospital.

"Hahnemann is a safety-net hospital that for decades has provided care to an under-served community. 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 and guarantee that the poor and working people who depend upon this hospital continue to receive the care that they need," the union said in a statement to The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Efforts to save the hospital continued June 27 when roughly 200 hospital employees gathered at Philadelphia City Hall to call on state lawmakers to step in, according to local TV station WPVI. That same day, the Pennsylvania Department of Health halted any immediate plans to end services at Hahnemann University Hospital.

In Pennsylvania, a hospital is required to give 90 days written notice to the state health department of its intent to close. The hospital must also submit a closure plan that addresses a number of areas, including staffing changes, transition plan and financial stability. As of June 27, AAHS had not submitted the required notification and closure plan, according to a cease and desist order the state department of health sent to the company.

"The department has determined that an immediate closure of Hahnemann or the termination of any services without a department-approved closure plan may cause irreparable harm to the health and safety of patients in the City of Philadelphia and surrounding areas," the department of health said.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health ordered AAHS to "cease and desist any attempt or action toward closing Hahnemann and/or eliminating services, particularly emergency department services" until state regulators have received and approved the 90-day notice of closing required by law.

AAHS sent the Philadelphia Business Journal the following statement regarding the cease and desist order:

"We acknowledge receipt of the DOH letter, and as we have said from the start, we intend to conduct the closure in an orderly manner that prioritizes the health care needs of our patients."

More articles on healthcare finance:

Vermont health system files for bankruptcy
Florida hospital's Medicare contract in jeopardy
Tennessee lawmaker calls for prosecution after hospital abruptly closes


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