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As Hahnemann Closes, Another Door Quickly Opens for Displaced OBs, Midwives
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.
In the 16 years that I have been director of Medical Staff Affairs at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, we have credentialed hundreds of clinicians who want to practice medicine at Jefferson and have handled thousands of documents, but it wasn’t until the recent closure of Hahnemann University Hospital that I ever saw paper move so quickly.
As the Medical Staff credentialing office, my team and I process applications for staff membership for the 2,500 medical practitioners and 900 residents and fellows based at Jefferson’s flagship Center City campus. We are the ones who verify the education, employment histories and certifications of your healthcare providers. It can be an arduous, time-consuming process, and a lot of it is still paper-based. If all goes smoothly, if the applicant responds promptly to our requests, and if the appropriate clinical leaders review and sign off without delay, a new doctor can start at Jefferson within two months.
On July 2, we received a request to credential a dozen Hahnemann obstetricians and eight midwives as quickly as possible so that their patients wouldn’t be left searching for new care teams to deliver their babies. In the time that followed, we expedited our in-person identity verifications, queried all the appropriate state and federal databases to check applicants’ backgrounds, and processed their recommendation letters (three each). By July 9, everything was processed. As you might imagine, medical staff credentialing is a detail-oriented process governed by various regulatory standards. Although we moved things quickly, we still followed the same rules and processes we always need to follow.
During that time, the physicians from our credentialing committee who review completed applications in order to bring them to the full committee pulled together a special meeting July 10. And the Hahnemann OBs and midwives received their Jefferson medical privileges effective July 12 — just 10 days after we got the call. The midwives who received credentials are the first inpatient midwives at Jefferson in at least a decade.
Because of Hahnemann’s abrupt closure, combined with expectant mothers who have due dates that cannot wait another week, everyone felt the urgency to give these moms some consistency in a time of unprecedented change.
The former Hahnemann staff are now delivering babies at Jefferson, and we expect many more to follow. Our maternity ward is expected to go from 1,800 births annually to a projected rate of about 2,800 annually because of the increased volume from the closure of our neighboring hospital.
Of course, our work isn’t done. Displaced medical residents are seeking new homes across the region to continue their training, so we are fast-tracking their interviews, transcript reviews and offer letters (contingent upon their official release from Hahnemann).
We are working to expedite employment processes and transfer the residents’ training licenses. We have scheduled an orientation for those residents Monday, Aug. 5. Various approvals are needed within the next few days for that orientation to happen, but I am confident we’ll get it done. A lot of paper will be flying around to get us there.
Debra A. Cifelli is director of Medical Staff and House Staff Affairs at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. This commentary originally appeared on Inquirer.com.