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Closure of Philadelphia Hospital Raises Red Flag About Wellness of Nation’s Healthcare System

Hahnemann's closure was a national warning about the cost of caring for vulnerable populations, the aging of legacy hospitals, the speeding shift to outpatient care, the rise of virtual care, the competitiveness of nonhospital providers, and the gridlock in Washington.

This is one commentary in a series of occasional first-person accounts of the effects of Hahnemann University Hospital’s closure in Philadelphia. To view other commentaries, click here.

Headshot of Dr. Stephen Klasko

Dr. Stephen Klasko is president of Thomas Jefferson University and CEO of Jefferson Health in Philadelphia.

This summer, Philadelphia became the epicenter of a looming crisis in the hospital industry in America. As detailed in the media, the owners of Hahnemann University Hospital declared bankruptcy in June. The summer saw the hospital’s abrupt shutdown, the loss of 2,500 jobs, and the largest closure (571 residents) of a physician residency program in the U.S.

Built in 1928, Hahnemann provided emergency care to more than 50,000 patients a year, many among the city’s most vulnerable.

The closure presented an unprecedented challenge. Only a few blocks away at Jefferson Health’s hospitals, we absorbed 40 more emergencies a day and doubled our deliveries. In one weekend we accepted 150 new patient appointments for expectant mothers who were more than 36 weeks pregnant. Within 10 days we credentialed 12 Hahnemann obstetricians and eight midwives, while onboarding 78 Hahnemann residents. Outside my office, the sirens doubled.

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