Hahnemann University Hospital's long, sometimes turbulent history

CENTER CITY (WPVI) -- Hahnemann Hospital had one mission when it was founded in 1848: to standardize training in the emerging medical field called homeopathy.

That is the belief that the body can heal itself by taking tiny amounts of natural substances, like plants and minerals to stimulate the healing process.

It was initially founded as the Homeopathic Medical College of Pennsylvania, but then renamed Hahnemann Medical College in honor of Samuel Hahnemann, the founder of homeopathic medicine.

From the start, Hahnemann welcomed students from all backgrounds.

By the 1920s, the school lost its homeopathic focus, but had become a nationally known academic medical center, excelling in specialties like cardiovascular disease.

It was the site of many pioneering clinical trials, such as mechanical hearts. It was also among the first hospitals in the Delaware Valley to do organ transplants.

Philadelphia police and firefighters were routinely treated there after on-the-job injuries, and it was the go-to emergency room and trauma center because of its proximity to center city and major highways.

When Pittsburgh-based Allegheny Health, Education and Research foundation entered the Philadelphia medical scene in the 1990s, it brought turmoil that left Hahnemann and other area hospitals reeling.

Allegheny quickly acquired Hahnemann and 9 other Philadelphia city and suburban hospitals, and brought in superstar doctors with million dollar salaries.

Noted researchers in heart disease, AIDS, and other specialties were hired, with promises of major new labs.

However, the lightning-fast expansion and consolidations engineered by CEO Sharif Adhelhak created a monstrous financial burden.

In July 1998, with $1.3 billion in debts and losing $1 million a day, Allegheny filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

It was one of the largest hospital system failures in American history.

Abdelhak was shown the door, and Allegheny began selling off hospitals,

Hahnemann Medical College combined with that of Medical College of Pennsylvania, formerly Women's Medical College.

Tenet Healthcare, a Dallas-based for-profit healthcare company, acquired Hahnemann and St. Christopher's Hospital for Children.

The medical colleges were put under a non-profit, MCP-Hahnemann.

When fears arose in 2002 the schools would close, Drexel University took them and they became Drexel Medical College.

Although Hahnemann University Hospital is a key training site for Drexel medical and nursing students, the college says it has affiliations with 20 training sites and can shift trainees there.
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