Tower Health's journey to improve finances: A timeline

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Tower Health, a seven-hospital system based in West Reading, Pa., has made headlines in the past year as it navigated financial troubles and worked to improve margins. Below is a timeline of some of the key stories about Tower Health's finances since last fall.

September 2020: Tower Health ends fiscal year 2020 with an operating loss of $378.2 million, compared to an operating loss of $178.8 million a year earlier. Tower Health also records a net loss of $346.4 million in fiscal 2020. A year earlier the system reported a net loss of $141.9 million. 

October 2020: S&P Global Ratings lowers Tower Health's long-term rating three notches because of its deteriorating finances in fiscal 2020. The credit rating agency lowers its long-term rating to "BB+" from "BBB+." The rating outlook remains negative. The downgrade affects about $1.3 billion of long-term debt. 

November 2020: In a conference call with investors Nov. 10, Tower Health officials say they were evaluating all options to improve the organization's balance sheet and competitive position. Tower Health also taps financial consultant Guidehouse to help with its financial recovery plan. The health system also says it is considering selling its hospitals as part of a financial turnaround plan. 

January 2021: Tower Health announces Gary Conner will resign as executive vice president and CFO of the health system. The resignation is effective Feb. 19. A reason for the resignation was not provided, but it is an important story in Tower Health's financial journey.

March 2021: The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that some of the biggest health systems in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh are not interested in buying Tower Health because of its financial woes. The health systems mentioned include the University of Pennsylvania Health System in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh-based UPMC. 

June 2021: Tower Health reports operating results for the first nine months of fiscal year 2021 and says it is working to review proposals from potential buyers. Tower Health's operating loss reached $228.4 million through the third quarter of fiscal 2021, which ended March 31. In the financial report, Tower Health said it received multiple indications of interest from potential buyers and is working to review the proposals by mid-July. 

July 2021: Tower Health says it plans to remain independent and has signed a letter of intent to develop a strategic alliance with Philadelphia-based Penn Medicine and establish an affiliation steering committee with the health system. The committee, which will have equal representation from both systems, will spend six months evaluating potential areas of collaboration. 

August 2021: Tower Health discloses several hospital leadership team changes. One key financial change is in this leadership transition. Tower Health announces its treasurer, Sean O'Connell, is no longer with the health system. Robert Ehinger, the health system's senior vice president of financial operations, assumes the treasurer role. Read more about the other leadership changes here.

September 2021: As part of a financial stabilization plan announced Sept. 28, Tower Health says it plans to close Jennersville Hospital in West Grove, Pa., on Jan. 1. Tower Health says it will work with affected employees to offer them other suitable jobs within the health system or offer them priority consideration to join Penn Medicine in Philadelphia. 

September 2021: As part of the financial stabilization plan announced Sept. 28, Tower Health signs a letter of intent to sell Chestnut Hill Hospital and more than a dozen urgent care centers to Trinity Health Mid-Atlantic. Tower Health says both the sale and closure come after months of thoughtful exploration and analysis, and the actions will strengthen and reshape the health system for decades. 

October 2021: A Montgomery County, Pa., judge approves Tower Health's application for a property tax exemption for its Pottstown (Pa.) Hospital. 

October 2021: A Chester County, Pa.,  judge denies Tower Health's bid to get property tax exemptions for three of its Pennsylvania hospitals: Brandywine Hospital in Coatesville, Jennersville Hospital in West Grove and Phoenixville Hospital.

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