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Hahnemann University Hospital’s inner turmoil: A timeline of changes, layoffs, and closing

Hahnemann officials say they plan to close the hospital. Here is a timeline of events that led to the closing, and happened since the announcement.

Hahnemann University Hospital in Philadelphia.
Hahnemann University Hospital in Philadelphia.Read moreDAVID SWANSON / Staff Photographer

Hahnemann University Hospital, a Center City institution that has been open since the 1800s, on Wednesday announced its closure after a particularly rocky year.

The hospital admitted to losing millions of dollars each month and has faced numerous issues involving its union and its academic partner, Drexel University.

Here is a timeline of the drama that has plagued the hospital in recent years, as well as a look back at Hahnemann’s relatively quiet start:

1848: Medical college opens

Hahnemann opens as a homeopathic medical college — the first of its kind in the nation.

1928: A Broad Street move

The hospital moves to its current location on North Broad Street, about a block away from where it was first opened. Its South Tower built during the move was the first skyscraper teaching hospital in the United States.

1979: Expansion

Needing more space, Hahnemann expands and creates its North Tower.

1993: Purchased by Allegheny Health

Hahnemann Medical College and Hospital is purchased by Allegheny Health Education and Research Foundation.

1998: Allegheny Health bankruptcy

Five years after acquiring Hahnemann, Allegheny Health Education and Research Foundation declares bankruptcy, leaving Tenet Healthcare Corp. to acquire its holdings. These included Hahnemann University Hospital, MCP Hospital, and other regional teaching hospitals, including St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children and Warminster Hospital.

This switch in ownership would lead to a relatively quiet 19 years for Hahnemann under Tenet.

January 2018: Hospital sold

Almost 20 years after coming to Philadelphia to save eight bankrupt hospitals, Tenet Healthcare Corp. sold its last two facilities in the city to American Academic, an affiliate of the California-based Paladin Healthcare. The private equity-backed firm bought Hahnemann University Hospital and St. Christopher’s Hospital for $170 million.

March 2019: New CEO fired

Suzanne Richards is fired just two months into her tenure as chief executive of Hahnemann University Hospital and St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children.

Spring 2019: Struggles to turn around

The Inquirer reports Joel Freedman, president of American Academic Health System LLC, which bought Hahnemann last year, is “running out of time” to turn the hospital around.

At the time, Freedman said, “if Hahnemann has to close,” it would not be sudden because it had “obligations to patients.”

According to Freedman, Hahnemann was losing $3 million to $5 million a month.

April 2019: Layoffs

The hospital lays off 175 employees. Freedman says in order for it to survive, the hospital needs help from government, insurers, and Drexel University, the latest move in a tumultuous year for management and employees at Hahnemann.

May 2, 2019: Lawsuit over unpaid bills

Hahnemann is sued by benefit funds for union employees over nearly $2 million in unpaid bills. This included unpaid contributions for pensions, health benefits, and training.

May 31, 2019: Drexel tries for deal

Drexel announces the university is working on a deal to save Hahnemann, its main teaching hospital, because a closure would cause a last-minute scramble for Drexel’s medical students to find a new medical institution to learn from.

June 24, 2019: Drexel threatens suit

Drexel threatens to sue Hahnemann if the hospital closes, arguing that the closure would violate Drexel’s agreement with Hahnemann to train medical students. Drexel officials argue that the closure would “greatly disrupt the health and medical community in Philadelphia.” The university filed a preliminary injunction to prevent a closure of the hospital, but a Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas judge turned down that request.

June 26, 2019: Closing announced

Hospital officials announce that Hahnemann will close its doors permanently in early September.

By state law, institutions like Hahnemann are required to give a 90-day notice of closure, though it appeared as if Hahnemann might not be able to sustain operations for that long.

Freedman said, “We are saddened our efforts have not been successful, and we are faced with the heartbreaking reality that Hahnemann cannot continue to lose millions of dollars each month and remain in business.”

As of now, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children — another Philadelphia hospital owned by the health system — will remain open.

June 27, 2019: State orders hospital to ‘cease and desist’ closure

The Pennsylvania Department of Health orders the owner of Hahnemann University Hospital to not take any action toward the closure of Hahnemann until regulators approve a plan that ensures “the safety of those persons who are reliant on the care provided by Hahnemann.”

If Hahnemann moves forward with closure plans before getting approval, it could be fined and face legal action, the health department said.

Meanwhile, the Hahnemann nurses’ union, labor leaders and lawmakers rally outside Philadelphia City Hall to save the facility and protect 2,572 hospital employee jobs.

June 29, 2019: ER closes to incoming trauma patients

After the Philadelphia Fire Department warned that Hahnemann could no longer accept critically ill patients into the emergency room, the hospital officially announced they would no longer be accepting trauma patients in the ER.

Hahnemann said they would only accept patients with less-severe cases, such as the flu or broken bones.

June 30, 2019: Owners file for bankruptcy protection

Late Sunday night, Hahnemann’s owners filed for bankruptcy protection in order to “facilitate a restructuring or sale of St. Christopher’s,” Allen Wilen, chief restructuring officer for Philadelphia Academic Health System LLC, said in a news release.

Wilen said the move would “allow [St. Christoper’s] to remain in full operatinon."