Hahnemann University Hospital’s owners have said the debt-ridden institution will stay open until Sept. 6, but a new timeline announced Tuesday indicates the hospital will continue to sharply reduce operations long before then.
The plan is subject to state approval, though some new elements of it take effect almost right away.
As of 7 a.m. Wednesday, the hospital will no longer admit patients who come in through the emergency room, though the ER itself will remain open for noncritical cases until Aug. 16, according to the plan from owner Philadelphia Academic Health System. Also Wednesday, the hospital will stop handling elective (nonemergency) surgical cases that require inpatient care.
The safety-net hospital, which serves mainly the low-income areas nearby, began winding down some services as soon as the owners announced the proposed closure last month. State regulations require 90 days’ notice and an approved closure plan, requirements that the proposed closure date did not meet.
City and state officials have demanded that the hospital not shut down abruptly, and the state Health Department has stationed a temporary manager at the hospital who is supposed to oversee an orderly wind-down.
The planned closure has sparked protests from community members and employees, and even a rally on Monday featuring Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders. Hahnemann’s impending demise also has left more than 500 medical residents and fellows scrambling to find new spots for their training. Some residents, foreign physicians with J-1 visas, could face deportation if an appropriate placement can’t be found for them quickly.
The emergency department already has stopped accepting critically ill patients and given up its trauma center designation. The maternity unit, which delivered more than 1,000 babies a year, has also stopped operating. A week ago, the 496-bed hospital had just 97 inpatients. Owners and state officials have declined to say how much the census has fallen since then.
In a statement, interim chief executive officer Ron Dreskin described the closure plan as “thoughtful, deliberate, and gradual.”
“The decision to close Hahnemann was an extremely difficult but necessary one, due to continuing unsustainable financial losses. We have been working hand in hand with the Mayor’s Office, Drexel University, and officials from the Philadelphia Health Commissioner’s Office and the Pennsylvania Department of Health to ensure a smooth wind-down of operations,” Dreskin said.
Nate Wardle, a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Department of Health, said Tuesday evening that the agency was aware of the plan but had not formally cleared it.
“While the Hahnemann University Hospital closure plan has not been approved, we are aware of the schedule,” he said. “Our temporary manager remains on site to ensure that the patients being served receive high-quality care.”
Deana Gamble, a spokesperson for Mayor Jim Kenney, added: “City and state health officials have been working closely with Hahnemann staff on their closure plan, and this schedule is consistent with these discussions to date. That said, there are several outstanding issues that still need to be resolved, and the closure plan has not received final approval.”
On Friday, the hospital plans to stop accepting direct inpatient admissions — meaning patients who are admitted to the hospital without first going through the ER.
Endoscopies, colonoscopies, same-day surgeries, and the hospital’s sleep lab would all end as of July 26, according to the timeline.
The hospital’s radiology, blood bank, pharmacy, and lab services would stop Aug. 23.
The Drexel outpatient oncology suite located at Hahnemann would cease operations by Sept. 6.
Hahnemann’s owners filed for bankruptcy a few days after announcing the closure. A court hearing on the plan is scheduled for Friday.