Hahnemann plans to transfer residency, fellowship programs to Tower Health

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Hahnemann University Hospital has announced plans to transfer the majority of the residency and fellowship programs at Hahnemann/Drexel University to Tower Health.

A statement released Wednesday morning reads, "Under the letter of intent, Tower Health will assume the responsibility for the continued training of residents and fellows in these programs, while giving those physicians the right to be placed in one of Tower Health's six hospitals, many of which are in close proximity to Hahnemann."

According to its website:

Tower Health is comprised of six hospitals in the region; urgent care centers, ambulatory sites, and other delivery systems. With 714 beds, Reading Hospital is the largest hospital between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, and has the state's highest volume Emergency Department and the 7th highest in the US. The hospital also includes a Level I Trauma Center, and nationally recognized cardiovascular, CT surgery, Neurosurgery/Neurology, Oncology, Orthopedic, and Women's Services programs.

Along with Reading Hospital, Tower Health also includes Brandywine Hospital, Chestnut Hill Hospital, Jennersville Hospital, Phoenixville Hospital, and Pottstown Hospital.

"We have been working hard with Drexel to find a solution for the residency and fellowship programs for everyone involved," Joel Freedman, President of Hahnemann, said in the statement. "We are pleased to have reached an agreement with Tower Health which provides the best opportunity for the residents and fellows to continue training with the Drexel physicians while keeping the training cohort intact and enabling residents and fellows to remain in the Greater Philadelphia area."

The three facilities said they agreed this would be the best course of action "as it results in as little disruption as possible to the residents and fellows' personal lives at a time when they are tasked with rigorous training."

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President and CEO Clint Matthews said Tower Health will provide a number of benefits including free onsite housing for physicians training at Reading Hospital and free meals while in any Tower Health hospital.

On its website, Tower Health said it will provide "job placement assistance for spouses and significant others."

"We welcome the residents and fellows to Tower Health and look forward to working with them," said Matthews. "We are committed to our academic affiliation with Drexel University and providing a high-quality training program for residents and fellows."

Tower Health said it will also seek to hire the faculty who are currently training the residents and fellows to "ensure continuity of the Hahnemann and Drexel training programs."

A 20-year academic agreement was signed between the Tower Health and Drexel University in February 2019.

Last month, Tower Health and Drexel University held a groundbreaking ceremony for the Drexel University College of Medicine at Tower Health four- year regional campus in West Reading.

"This is a natural next step in the growing relationship between Tower Health and Drexel University, which includes our recently announced 20-year academic affiliation and the initiative to explore combining the Tower Health Medical Group and Drexel University Physicians practices," John Fry, President of Drexel University, said.

Tower Hill is holding the following open houses for Hahnemann University Hospital residents:

Reading Hospital

Thursday, July 11
4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Saturday, July 13
10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Chestnut Hill Hospital

Friday, July 12
4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Those interested can register at https://reading.towerhealth.org/academics/gme-training-opportunities-/.

Hahnemann's statement concludes:

"Hahnemann, Tower Health and Drexel also recognize that residents and fellows have free choice regarding where to complete their training. To ensure that every resident and fellow receives Medicare reimbursement funding, Hahnemann is confirming the relevant cap on reimbursement for each individual. Hahnemann will begin releasing any program participants who wish to complete their training elsewhere, upon confirmation of the cap value for every participant in the training program."

The state's cease and desist order, instructing Hahnemann not to take any action towards closing down, is still in place. Yet, with each passing week, it seems another resource is being stripped from the hospital.

Hahnemann Hospital has announced that labor and delivery as well as any non-emergency surgery and procedures will shut down on Friday.

"If you are due to give birth in July and August, we will contact you by phone to help arrange for your admission to another Philadelphia hospital. Currently, Drexel Obstetrics and Gynecology is working closely with Thomas Jefferson, Center City. However, you may deliver your baby in any hospital you choose, and we will coordinate your care with any hospital you designate," said Drexel University College of Medicine's Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology in a letter to patients.

Martina Piekart is delivering here at Hahnemann tomorrow, "I've got twins a boy and a girl," she said.

Registered Nurse Jane Bryers works in Labor and Delivery at the hospital. She says she expects Piekart's twins will be the last babies born at Hahnemann.

The closure of labor and delivery leaves 819 pregnant patients to find other options.

"These poor women will have to face potentially delivering with other doctors they have not met before. Our physicians, at this point, have not obtained licensure. Their plan is to be at Jefferson and they have applied for a quick release to those licensure, but have not been approved just yet," said Bryers.

Hahnemann already closed its trauma unit. The hospital is set to shut down for good in September over financial issues.
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