September 21, 2022
Crozer Health, the struggling hospital system in Delaware County, will close the emergency department at Drexel Hill's Delaware County Memorial Hospital and will transition Springfield Hospital to outpatient care only as part of a transformation of its services, officials said.
The four-hospital system has been under financial strain for years and underwent significant challenges that threatened services at some of its facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The DCMH campus will begin functioning as a behavioral health inpatient center by spring 2023, maintaining a crisis care unit and inpatient acute psychiatric care, along with detox and rehabilitation services and senior behavioral health. The facility will have more than 100 beds when the renovations are completed.
All other services, including the emergency department, will be shut down within the next 60 days to begin work toward the transition next year.
At Springfield Hospital, Crozer plans an ambulatory surgery center that may also include the closure of the emergency department. The campus will maintain urgent care, advanced surgical care and outpatient services ranging from rehabilitation to diagnostic imaging, in addition to primary and specialty care.
Crozer Health CEO Anthony Esposito said the changes are meant to balance the needs of the community with the challenges of running the hospitals.
“What we’ve done is assess what those needs are in partnership with physicians, the community, and local leaders," Esposito said. “Through this engagement, we determined that access to community-based, high-quality, safe, and effective services are key to being responsive to the community while also addressing the changing nature of healthcare today.”
Crozer was acquired by the for-profit Prospect Medical Holdings in 2016, drawing mounting scrutiny from county officials as the health system's financial stability and services suffered.
Earlier this year, Crozer had signed a letter of intent with Delaware's ChristianaCare to bring the four Pennsylvania hospitals into the fold of the private, nonprofit system. That deal was abandoned last month and Crozer said it would still plan a return to nonprofit status, though the path to doing so remained unclear.
At Springfield Hospital, the health system signaled last month that it would refocus on outpatient services, which it says accounts for 60% of its revenue.
Since the start of the pandemic, the 4,000-employee health system has gone through executive lay offs, staff shortages and suspended operations, including the emergency department in Springfield and the maternity, intensive care and surgical units at DCMH.
Delaware County took legal action to keep essential parts of the system running, and Crozer had reached an agreement with county officials to keep open behavioral health and addiction treatment services it previously planned to close.
The problems with Crozer have driven a push by lawmakers in Delaware County to eliminate for-profit health care systems in Pennsylvania. Prospect Medical Holdings was the subject of a ProPublica investigation in 2020 that found the company's previous owners — Leonard Green & Partners — had siphoned money from the business before selling it in 2019. That decision left many of its hospitals in dire financial straits.
“We want to give the state more oversight over these transactions and create other policies that deter these bad actors from looting our healthcare systems and then running once the resources vanish," state Sen. Tim Kearney (D-Chester/Delaware) said last month.
After Crozer Health's announcement on Thursday, Kearney condemned the decision to shut down the emergency department at DCMH.
“Crozer’s closure of DCMH is a reprehensible abandonment of our communities, and not only threatens the lives of patients near the hospital, but also the entire network of hospitals who will have to take patients who would have gone to DCMH," Kearney said. "This entirely avoidable closure could have been prevented if there had been laws to protect our hospitals from private equity looters."
Kearney's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the latest developments when contacted Wednesday.
Dina Capalongo, Crozer Health’s Chief Medical Officer, said Wednesday that the upcoming changes are meant to position the health system for the future.
“We’ve looked at how we can provide better access to care for our patients, especially the most vulnerable, while not ignoring the pressures hospitals are facing in this post-pandemic world," Capalongo said. "We will refine alternate care models and technology to enhance this access."