Prime Healthcare to downsize Pennsylvania hospital

Prime Healthcare plans to convert Suburban Community Hospital, a 126-bed facility in East Norriton, Pa., into a microhospital that focuses on emergency care and services including imaging, lab and pharmacy.

"Suburban Community Hospital will be considered a microhospital with 60 licensed beds and additional beds that could be opened in the future, if needed," a spokesperson for Prime Healthcare, told Becker's. "This transition was made in response to community need."

Prime said it is suspending behavioral health services at the hospital because of low demand and challenges retaining qualified behavioral health providers. The service adjustments are set to take effect mid-July.

"Suburban will continue to provide the quality care patients have come to expect with 24/7 emergency care including 26 emergency room beds with at least one room that meets airborne infection isolation standards, a pediatric room, a large treatment room and a trauma room," according to the Ontario, Calif.-based health system. 

Suburban has transfer agreements with Prime's sister hospitals in the region — Roxborough Memorial Hospital in Philadelphia and Lower Bucks Hospital in Bristol — as well as Jefferson Health's Einstein Philadelphia and Montgomery Hospitals, Montgomery Subacute and Respiratory Center, Temple Chestnut Hill Hospital and Temple University Hospital. The transfer agreements are in place for patients with complex cases or services that Suburban will not provide. 

It is not yet clear yet how the changes will affect staffing and positions at the hospital. 

Microhospitals, or neighborhood hospitals, are intended to fill coverage gaps in areas that generally cannot support a full-scale hospital, with Prime's microhospital plan following a growing trend in the region.

Pittsburgh-based Allegheny Health Network has four microhospitals through a joint venture with developer Emeritus, while Newark, Del.-based ChristianaCare and Allentown, Pa.-based Lehigh Health Valley Network are also investing in microhospitals.

Prime Healthcare Foundation, the nonprofit arm of for-profit Prime Healthcare, acquired Suburban Community in 2016. The health system also plans to convert Roxborough Memorial and Lower Bucks Hospital to nonprofits under Prime Healthcare Foundation.

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