Abington ends merger talks with Holy Redeemer

    The deal is off. Montgomery County’s Abington Health and Holy Redeemer Health System announced Wednesday they’ve halted talks on a proposed merger.

    Last week, Abington Health officials said they would stop providing abortion care under the proposed partnership with Holy Redeemer.

    Hospital executives aren’t talking, but issued a written statement: “Together we had a bold vision that we believe would have served our community well. While we are disappointed, we believe this decision is in the best interest of both organizations.”

    Amelia McLennan, an OB-GYN resident at Abington, is celebrating.

    After an early morning meeting last week, leaders on the medical staff asked the hospital board to reconsider.

    “They tried to emphasize that the contract that was being formulated would stipulate that essentially all other reproductive health wouldn’t change,” McLennan said. “But we certainly had a strong fear, and we think realistic fear, based on similar situations in other hospital mergers that there was a threat down the line the more of our medical privileges would be restricted, and more of our medical services would be cut.”

    McLennan says most of her colleagues opposed the merger.

    “They told us that they got hundreds and hundreds of letters from community members, people threatening to take their entire family’s care away from Abington and go to other hospitals,” she said. “Donors wrote in and called in and threatened to withdraw their donations.”

    Gynecologist David Toub is not connected to either hospital, but lives in nearby Wyncote, Pa. He said Holy Redeemer is the wrong partner for Abington, but a good hospital.

    “My kids go there to a great pediatric practice,” Toub said. “I have to remind myself that it’s a Catholic hospital. It’s not at all, very in your face, in that regard, to their credit. However, they still have their red lines and abortion is a very big red line for them.”

    Toub was among a group of health workers, attorneys and residents who organized to stop the partnership.

    “This shows that social networking and a just cause, and a lot of community activism with a lot of good people working on something they feel passionate about, have that power to actually change things,” he said.

    Toub said he’s no health economist, but that Abington is likely still looking for a good match.

    “In order to position themselves for the future, regardless of their financial health now, they needed to join forces,” Toub said. “Besides the usual economies of scale that you get from a merger. There were certain services that Holy Redeemer provides — and truthfully provides very well — in terms of long-term care, and hospice care, where Abington didn’t have enough skin in the game.”

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