Hahnemann University Hospital this week announced plans to close its 496-bed Center City facility, igniting protest from staff and prompting pushback from state officials, who ordered the hospital to halt its closure until an approved plan for patients is in place.
While the future of the 171-year-old medical institution hangs in the balance, if the hospital closes by Sept. 6 as announced, most Hahnemann doctors will remain in their practices, according to the hospital. However, some patients unable to stay with their doctor may also consider new medical care.
We talked to experts and compiled tips to keep in mind when switching medical care providers, whether your medical facility closes, you move, or your doctor goes elsewhere.
When it comes to requesting your medical records, it’s important to know your rights.
Under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), you’re entitled to copies of your medical records, whether they’re held by health care providers or your insurance company, and regardless of whether you owe your current health provider money.
The first place to look for your information: your health care provider’s online patient portal.
There, you may be able to request your records, or you may need to fill out a release form, according to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. You may also be charged a “reasonable fee” for copies of the records, according to the office.
Hahnemann patients can request records by calling the Medical Records Department at 215-762-7680, according to the hospital.
“Hahnemann University Hospital has made arrangements for the off-site storage of medical records," the hospital’s website says. "More information on requesting a copy of your medical records after the closure will be provided at a later date.”
If you’ve had a long relationship with your doctor, finding new medical care can be daunting.
First, contact your insurance provider to check which providers are covered by your network. Then, make sure they meet your needs. Several sites, such as those of insurance companies, the American Medical Association, and U.S. News & World Report, offer search tools for finding medical professionals by specialty near you.
On its website, Independence Blue Cross, the Philadelphia area’s largest health insurer, also recommends considering the location of the office, the days and hours the doctor sees patients, and making sure you feel comfortable on the phone and during face-to-face meetings with the physician and office staff.
Looking for a new pharmacy? Shop around and call ahead, recommends Tori Marsh, a health insights analyst with GoodRx.
Pharmacy prices can change drug by drug, so taking the time to shop around can save up to hundreds of dollars for certain drugs, Marsh said.
She also recommends calling the pharmacy to make sure your drug is in stock, and developing a relationship with the pharmacist.
“Finding a pharmacist that you trust, that you can have over-the-counter interactions with, and talk to about insurance issues is important,” Marsh said.
And if you’re transferring a prescription, GoodRx advises having the name, strength, prescription numbers of each prescription handy, along with the phone number of your old pharmacy, your insurance information, and a list of any allergies.
Hahnemann says its emergency room will close in August. In 2017, the facility had more than 15,000 emergency-room admissions, the fifth-highest in the area.