Officials: Delaware County Memorial emergency dept. closed due to 'failure to adequately staff'

Tuesday, November 8, 2022
Emergency operations at Delaware County Memorial Hospital suspended
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The Pennsylvania Department of Health suspended emergency department operations at Delaware County Memorial Hospital at 7 a.m. Monday.

DREXEL HILL, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- The Pennsylvania Department of Health suspended emergency department operations at Delaware County Memorial Hospital at 7 a.m. Monday.

"You are hereby notified that the Pennsylvania Department of Health (Department) is issuing an Order against Prospect DCMH, LLC d/b/a Delaware County Memorial Hospital (facility) suspending emergency department services and imposing a ban on admissions at the facility effective Monday, November 7, 2022 at 07:00 am," the department's order read.

The order does not impact outpatient services.

Delaware County officials say it's due to a failure to adequately staff the hospital.

The health department said this was warranted due to "serious violations."

The county lashed out at the hospital's current owner, Prospect Medical Holdings, the parent company of Crozer Health, saying it "shows a gross lack of concern for the well-being of Delaware County residents."

Officials from Delaware County say they had already started opening legal channels to keep Delaware County Memorial Hospital fully open.

Delaware County Council Chair Dr. Monica Taylor came just short of accusing the owners of the medical center of purposely leaving the hospital understaffed.

"They were faced with legal action to remain open, which they then appealed. It isn't just by chance that Prospect is now unable to adequately staff the hospital, which has resulted in the state shutting the hospital down," Taylor said.

Frances Sheehan, president of the Foundation for Delaware County, says this is a violation of an agreement Prospect Medical Holdings made to keep acute medical services at Delaware County Memorial open and available through 2026.

"By securing the state department of health's suspension of services today, Prospect has shown a level of contempt for the court, and for the health and well-being of the people of eastern Delaware County," said Sheehan.

In its order, the health department said the company failed to "provide diagnostic imaging coverage for the hospital, including the emergency department."

Last month, a judge granted a temporary injunction preventing the Drexel Hill hospital from closing and being turned into a behavioral health facility.

The Department of Health issued the order Friday night.

The state health department said, "The suspension of emergency services and ban on admissions will be in place until the Department determines that there is no longer a significant threat to the health or safety of patients. The facility may not hold itself out to the public as being able to provide these services while the ban and suspension are in place. However, the facility shall be prepared to institute essential life-saving measures in accordance with 28 Pa. Code 117.1 (a) and transfer patients requiring emergency services or an inpatient admission as necessary."

Crozer Health released a statement, saying it has notified its other medical facilities of the closure.

"Crozer Health received an order from the PA Department of Health advising us that due to staffing issues, we must close the Emergency Department at Delaware County Memorial Hospital until further notice, beginning at 7:00 a.m. on Monday, November 7. We have alerted nearby emergency departments and EMS, including our Taylor Hospital and Crozer-Chester Medical Center, that are prepared to see patients," Crozer Health said.

In its full statement, Delaware County says it's exploring all legal options to try to keep the hospital open.

"Pennsylvania Department of Health's decision to suspend operations at Delaware County Memorial Hospital is a direct result of Prospect's failure to adequately staff Delaware County Memorial Hospital. Prospect's recent history, including its September 21 announcement of its intention to close DCMH within 60 days, shows a gross lack of concern for the well-being of Delaware County residents. The County is exploring all of our legal options to try to keep the DCMH open," the county said.