Philadelphia officials have won a partial victory in their bid to have a role in the sale of St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children.
At a hearing in Wilmington on Friday, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Gross declined to put the city on par with secured lenders and the unsecured creditors committee during the auction of the North Philadelphia safety-net hospital, but told attorneys for St. Christopher’s that the city deserved special consideration.
"When you become aware of information that affects continuity of care, you will notify the city," Gross told Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP attorney Mark Minuti, who is representing Philadelphia Academic Health System LLC.
The order Gross issued Friday allows city officials to learn the identity of qualified bidders, but makes them keep that information confidential. It also requires the bankrupt hospital’s attorneys to tell city officials within 24 hours or as soon as possible if they have a bid that “may significantly impact the continuity of patient care at STC and/or its related practice groups.”
Earlier, city officials said they wanted be a “consultation party” in the proposed sale, “given the dire need to sustain the services provided by St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children." That status would have forced the group trying to sell St. Chris to check in frequently with city officials during the sale process.
From the city’s perspective, the best offer would not necessarily be the highest cash offer, but one that maintains what the city considers essential services at St. Chris. Those include preventive care, parental advice, developmental counseling, and other services at the Center for the Urban Child, and St. Chris’ support of the Philadelphia Children’s Alliance, which aids sexually abused children in a partnership with the city.
The owner filed for bankruptcy protection on June 30. The case includes St. Christopher’s and Hahnemann University Hospital, which had no inpatients Friday and is closing.