Hahnemann University Hospital, which discharged its last inpatient in late July but is still the subject of an intense legal fight in bankruptcy court, is the 10th Philadelphia hospital to close in the last 20 years.
Each closure is an economic blow, typically costing hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs. Hahnemann, for instance employed 2,500 people in Center City. Closures, like that of Hahnemann, typically uproot patients and families, who sometimes rely on the same community hospital for generations, from familiar ground.
Despite a 33% reduction in the number of licensed acute-care hospital beds since the late 1990s, according to Pennsylvania Department of Health data, the city has always adjusted — in large part because health care is inexorably moving toward a world in which more care is provided outside of the hospital.
JOHN DUCHNESKIE / Staff Artist
Elective surgeries, such as joint replacements, that 20 years ago required a multi-day hospital stay can now be done on an outpatient basis for some patients. In 1970, mothers spent an average of four days in the hospital for a vaginal delivery, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Now, it’s not unusual for them to go home 24 hours after giving birth. That trend means fewer hospital beds are needed.
What’s happened to the hospital buildings? Some, like Mount Sinai in South Philadelphia, have been demolished, others reused as specialized health-care facilities, such as Girard Medical Center, which closed as an acute hospital, but is now used for behavioral health. And, yes, some have been turned into condos or apartments.
As for the 496-bed Hahnemann hospital, some cling to hope that it could reopen, but turning it into a long-term success will be a hard road because many staffers and all the patients have already dispersed to other hospitals. And, given that the hospital had operating losses for the past 15 years, any attempt at finding a path to financial sustainability is bound to be fraught with challenges.
Below is a gallery of historical photos of closed Philadelphia hospitals, dating back to the closure of Philadelphia General in 1977. The closure list is restricted to general acute-care hospitals.
St. Agnes Hospital
Year closed: 2004
Current use: Multipurpose health campus