Hospital CEO resigns after 2 failed inspections, license delays

On Feb. 14, the CEO of a Pennsylvania hospital announced his resignation as the hospital works to secure a permanent license after two failed attempts and a now-resolved immediate jeopardy designation, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. 

St. Christopher's Hospital for Children in Philadelphia has been operating under a temporary license since July. Two consecutive inspections from the Pennsylvania Department of Health failed to achieve a permanent, three-year license, according to the news outlet. 

The hospital is owned by Philadelphia's Drexel University and Tower Health, a West Reading, Pa.-based system that has rejected four purchase offers amid financial losses. In January, Philadelphia's Penn Medicine pulled out of its plan to buy Coatesville, Pa.-based Brandywine Hospital, which Tower Health closed in December 2021.

In July, Pennsylvania officials handed the hospital a six-month temporary license because of multiple issues related to safety, sanitation and patient privacy. Most of the problems were corrected when the health department visited again in November, but new violations appeared. 

In January, St. Christopher's Hospital for Children was given a second temporary six-month license to operate. 

Over the last five years, only five Pennsylvania hospitals have received temporary licenses, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. Three of them required another temporary license.

In early 2023, St. Christopher's was in immediate jeopardy amid claims it failed to report an alleged child abduction and lacked leadership. One of the hospital's responses was to promise that the hospital's CEO, Donald Mueller, would be at the location five days a week. Mr. Mueller has been the CEO since July 2020, and during his tenure, he has lived in Tennessee. 

His resignation will take place over the next few months, and the current COO, Robert Brooks, will retain his role and become president during the leadership change. Mr. Mueller is transitioning to another role at a nonprofit healthcare institute in Chattanooga, Tenn., to be close to his family.

The patient safety concerns that caused the temporary licenses include dirty patient rooms, unsafe storage of medical supplies, privacy rights infractions, expired medications and an "unusual incident" related to a patient's pressure injury.

"St. Christopher's is always making improvements to ensure that we continue to provide the highest quality services to a diverse community, working collaboratively with the Department of Health," a hospital spokesperson told the Inquirer.

Becker's has reached out to the hospital and the state's health department for comment and will update the story if more information becomes available.

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