Phila.'s Northeastern Hospital closing

March 23, 2009 8:47:33 PM PDT
Temple University Health System announced Monday that Philadelphia's Northeastern Hospital will close, and will reopen as the "Northeastern Ambulatory Care Center"In a statement, Temple said that the change will be effective as of July 1st.

Some 800 people will lose their jobs. Affected employees started being notified Monday.

The first department to close will be maternity, which delivered about 1,800 babies last year.

"We just saved two lives the other day, and then you don't give us the respect of letting us know," said R.N. Terri Johnson-Black.

Officials say the decision was made because fewer people are using the hospital, and facility is losing millions of dollars.

In the 2008 fiscal year, Temple says Northeastern Hospital reported a loss of $6.6 million and is projected to lose $15 million in fiscal year 2009.

The nurses' union says Temple Health has a $380 million reserve.

In a news conference, doctors and nurses said closing the hospital will be a disservice to the community and could cost lives.

"In Washington, AIG was too important to fail. In Philadelphia, Northeastern Hospital is too important to fail," said Dr. Alan Steinbach, the director of the ICU.

Patients will be taken to Temple Hospital's main campus, about three and a half miles away. For some, it's farther than that.

"It's a matter of getting to the hospital the fastest way you can in an emergency, and it's the only hospital around," said Mildred Bender of Port Richmond.

Northeastern Hospital's School of Nursing will continue operations.

The union said community organizations, employees, and physicians have repeatedly requested to be part of the planning process on the future of Northeastern.

They say Temple refused to allow any participation or meet directly with any stakeholders, or share any scenarios under consideration.

Temple says it will be meeting with community leaders to explain how the changes will affect patients.

The Nurses' Union said it will fight the changes and layoffs.

Temple says the center will focus on prenatal care and family health, offer non-emergency walk-in care, and provide outpatient specialty services such as cancer care, cardiac care, digestive disease care, orthopedics and occupational health.

Temple adds, full radiology services and routine lab work will be available on-site.

Northeastern Hospital has been serving the community for about 100 years. In 1996 it was taken over by Temple University Health System.

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