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Crozer Health is planning to permanently shut down Delaware County Memorial Hospital’s emergency department, according to internal emails obtained by WHYY News.
While the building will likely remain standing under this decision, the company wants to transition DCMH into a behavioral health hospital that offers detox and inpatient services.
DCMH won’t be the only Crozer hospital experiencing a huge change. Springfield Hospital will become an ambulatory surgery center. This set up usually means that a hospital no longer offers emergency care and conducts only procedures that do not require admissions.
Because of Pennsylvania’s hospital regulations, Crozer would have to wait at least 90 days to actually make these changes. The healthcare system could have to wait as long as 180 days under a recently passed Delaware County ordinance.
Crozer’s plan will likely strip the four-hospital system in Delaware County of two of its emergency care centers. That will leave five emergency care centers in the county of more than 573,000 residents.
Springfield will begin serving as an outpatient facility by the end of 2022. DCMH will begin serving as a behavioral health hospital by spring of 2023. All other services at DCMH will be discontinued within 60 days as it begins the transformation.
The decision is sure to elicit immediate pushback from Delaware County officials who have fought tooth and nail with the hospital system and its parent company, Prospect Medical Holdings, in recent months to keep all of the services at the hospitals intact.
In January, Crozer shut down DCMH’s maternity unit. This left just two hospitals in Delco providing such services: Crozer-Chester Medical Center and Riddle Hospital, which is part of the Main Line Health system. Crozer also made the “temporary” decision to close Springfield Hospital’s emergency department.
Just a couple of months later in March, the intensive care and surgical units at DCMH closed.
DCMH fell victim to Crozer’s cuts once more in April when the company attempted to schedule the closure of the hospital’s outpatient substance abuse clinic for June. The county responded by suing Prospect and Crozer.
While the parties eventually settled out of court with Prospect and Crozer agreeing to keep services open, ChristianaCare backing out of a deal to purchase the entire health system from Prospect served as the writing on the wall for major changes.