Hahnemann University Hospital said Saturday that it would no longer admit trauma patients, such as those suffering heart attacks, to its emergency room.
The official announcement on the emergency room came one day after the Philadelphia Fire Department issued an alert warning that Hahnemann’s emergency room couldn’t take critically ill patients.
The emergency department will remain open for less urgent cases, such as patients with the flu or broken bones. With its action Saturday, Hahnemann no longer designates its emergency room as a Level 1 and 2 trauma facility, which it has done since 1986.
“After reviewing our plan of closure and in consultation with the Pennsylvania Department of Health, we felt this move is in the best interest of patient safety,” Alexander E. Trebelev, the chief medical officer at Hahnemann, said in a statement.
The 496-bed, money-losing institution has said it will close its doors in September. On Thursday, the state Department of Health ordered its owner to not take any action toward closure until regulators approve a closure plan.
The sudden Hahnemann shutdown has caused turmoil. Hahnemann was unable to accept surgery or serious heart attack patients in its emergency room on Friday because eight of 12 scheduled operating room nurses did not show up for work, and the two cardiothoracic surgeons on duty left early, at 1 p.m.
Also on Saturday, members of a nurses’ labor union warned that the hospital lacked basic supplies to treat patients. The union — the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals — called on the state’s health department to appoint a “temporary manager” to oversee hospital operations.
The union likened the request to the state’s decision to install temporary management last year at nursing homes operated by Skyline Healthcare, after that company ran into financial trouble.
“We’ve got enough experienced and dedicated nurses in the hospital to treat every single case,” Dawn Andonian, a Hahnemann operating room nurse, said in a statement. “We need the state to get in here and make sure we have supplies so we can do our job.”
The Department of Health said Friday night that its own team visited Hahnemann that day, andis “continuing to monitor the situation” there. The department also said it received Hahnemann’s closure plan late Thursday, and is working with hospital officials to “address concerns regarding that plan.”
A spokesperson for the department offered no further comment Saturday.
Closing Hahnemann — which its owner says is losing millions of dollars a month — will eliminate 2,572 jobs, force other city hospitals to take on more patients, and scatter hundreds of medical students and residents who train at the Center City facility.
Hospitals like Hahnemann, with a large portion of their patients on Medicaid, have a hard time eking out a profit because the government insurance for the poor does not pay enough to cover costs, experts say.
Ron Dreskin, interim chief executive officer at Philadelphia Academic Health System LLC, Hahnemann’s parent company, acknowledged the closure will be tough on the city and on medical workers.