Lawmakers concerned about possible Delaware County hospital closure

Delaware County Memorial Hospital is losing its outpatient substance abuse clinic on June 10 due to COVID-19 challenges.
DREXEL HILL, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Local lawmakers are sounding the alarm, claiming thousands of patients in Delaware County are at risk of losing health care services.

State Representative Mike Zabel (D-163rd District) said it's clear Delaware County Memorial Hospital is going to close, alleging its owner, Prospect Medical Holdings, is only concerned about profit.

"What they said was that if the numbers improve, they will start restoring services," said Zabel. "But how do the numbers improve if you're only running an emergency room? If no one is coming to the hospital because there's no services being provided, the numbers aren't going to get better."

Delaware County Memorial Hospital is losing its outpatient substance abuse clinic on June 10 due to COVID-19 challenges and a staffing shortage. It makes up 12% of hospital beds in the county, with Crozer Health system as a whole, facing a series of closures.

"First they shut down the maternity ward, creating a real maternity health desert in Delaware County, then they shut down the intensive care unit and surgery," said Zabel. "All that's going to be left in Delaware County in just a few weeks is the emergency room, making it a barely functioning hospital and it's a pretty clear pattern they've been taking away and taking away and taking away and I believe it's leading up to the eventual closure of Delaware County Memorial Hospital."

Local nurses who work inside the hospital emphasize these closures put a burden on the patients and on the nurses and staff who forced to leave.

"There are people who want to serve the community and have been in this community for decades that are finding themselves having to go someplace else," said Allen Bruno, an emergency room nurse at DCMH and member of the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals (PASNAP).

In response to the closures, Delaware County Council passed an emergency ordinance last week, requiring hospitals to give a 180-day notice if they are going to close its units. In addition, hospitals are required to submit a closure plan to the Delaware County Health Department no later than 120 days from the anticipated date of closure.

"There wasn't really a lot of transition planning coming from Prospect Crozer on how we move those resources to another entity," said Monica Taylor, chair of Delaware County Council.

Crozer Health did not return multiple requests for comment but when discussing unit closures in the past, said it was focused on providing quality patient care.

In February, ChristianaCare issued a letter of intent to acquire Crozer Health and all of its hospitals. A spokesperson for ChristianaCare said they are in the middle of their due diligence process.

A spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Department of Health has not received any notification of Delaware County Memorial Hospital's closing. Hospitals are required to give written notice of intent to close no later than 90 days before the anticipated date of closing.
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