Lawmakers hear from healthcare workers, first responders, administrators and advocates impacted by hospital consolidation
Recent consolidation of area hospitals negatively impacts communities
EAST BRANDYWINE, Oct. 12 -- Last month, Tower Health announced that it will sell Chestnut Hill Hospital in Philadelphia and close Jennersville Hospital in West Grove, Pa.
With the fate of Tower’s Brandywine, Phoenixville, Pottstown, and Reading hospitals up in the air, local healthcare workers, first responders, administrators and advocates addressed concerns and impacts on quality and access to health care, and township services.
The event, called Saving Community Hospitals: Keeping Care Close, took place at 11 a.m. today at East Brandywine Township Building, 1214 Horseshoe Pike, Downingtown.
“The pandemic has exposed how badly people need close and affordable healthcare,” said Rep. Dan Williams, D-Sadsbury Township. “Discussion today emphasized that we need to keep healthcare facilities open and improve care. Hospital consolidation can be a good thing if healthcare workers are respected and services to patients are upgraded.”
Hospital administrators, Andrew Wigglesworth, vice president of Wojdak Government Relations, and Bill Ryan, vice president of Einstein Health Network/Urban Health Care Coalition, described how hospitals are dependent on Medicare or Medicaid, sharing that more than 62% of payers use that public funding mechanism. The funding mechanism results in strains on hospitals and could lead to more consolidations, such as those happening in the region.
“Closures and consolidations impact our seniors and put stress on the services provided by our municipalities,” said state Rep. Danielle Friel Otten, D-Chester. “Our senior living communities are expanding, and we have so many seniors moving in or choosing to remain in our area who would be impacted by these changes.”
Those present from the community included Jerry Silberman, senior staff representative from the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals; Matt Yarnell, president, SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania; Linda Heater, unit support coordinator, Pottstown Hospital; Lori Domin, president, Pottstown Nurses United; Crystal Somerset-Bruce, vice president, Pottstown Nurses United; Joe Kennedy, chief of operations, Westwood Fire; Pat Bokovitz, director, Chester County Human Services; and Joseph Elias, chief of police, Caln Township.
Other elected officials in attendance included state Reps. Patty Kim, D-Steelton; Melissa Shusterman, D-Chester; Mark Longietti, D-Mercer; Joe Ciresi, D-Limerick Township; and Derisha Parker, D-Phila.
In closing, Rep. Isaacson said, “Thank you for your presence and offering your stories so that we can bring these to Harrisburg to continue advocating on your behalf. Health care is important to this entire caucus, and we are committed to improving access to care for all Pennsylvanians.”
Photos of the event are available on members’ social media and at www.pahouse.com/policy.