Citing a staffing shortage, Tower Health announced Friday that it will close its urgent care centers on Sundays, starting Nov. 28.
The goal of the unusual move is to create consistent hours of operation, eliminating “intermittent closures that have created access challenges for our patients,” said Charles F. Barbera, Tower’s vice president of prehospital and unscheduled care.
“At the same time, it provides a day of respite for our team members who have been working tirelessly to keep our community safe and healthy for 20 months.”
Tower said it is trying to recruit employees and will resume Sunday hours as soon as possible.
Many hospitals across the region have been contending with staff shortages, forcing them to pay overtime to staff and higher wages for travel nurses and other professionals.
Tower has experienced some delays in its emergency departments because of staff shortages and at times was unable to perform certain surgical procedures because it lacked staff.
Tower Health lists on its website 26 freestanding urgent care centers as far south as Hockessin, Del., and stretching north to Hamburg, Pa. It bought 19 of them for $24.3 million in 2018.
As part of an effort to recover from massive financial losses caused by a rapid, debt-fueled expansion from its core Berks County market into Southeastern Pennsylvania, Tower said in September that it was in talks to sell most of its urgent care centers as well as Chestnut Hill Hospital to Trinity Health Mid-Atlantic.
Tower, which recently recorded a $370.7 million write-down of the urgent care centers and hospitals it acquired from 2017 through 2019, also said it planned to close Jennersville Hospital in West Grove and was trying to find a way to keep Brandywine Hospital, near Coatesville, open.
Tower had $2.2 billion in revenue in fiscal 2021 and employs 14,000. Its flagship is Reading Hospital in West Reading, Pa.