Down two hospitals in one month, new efforts to restore services in Chesco

Brandywine and Jennersville hospitals are now both closed. A new task force aims to keep services going, while another group wants the courts to intervene.

A sign on the doors of Brandywine Hospital indicates it is closing

Brandywine Hospital in Coatesville. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Brandywine Hospital in Coatesville officially closed on Monday — joining Jennersville Hospital in West Grove as the second Tower Health-owned medical operation to turn out the lights in Chester County in just one month.

Local organizations responded with two different efforts of their own to keep hospital services going, including the formation of a task force aiming to minimize the disruption caused by the closures, and a last-ditch attempt to get the courts to intervene.

The Chester County Medical Society said it will petition the Court of Common Pleas to support Canyon Atlantic Partners LLC’s legal bid to reverse the closure of the two hospitals.

In a statement, the society said it “Canyon’s success in litigation would result in the competent operation of the two hospitals, hospitals that will serve our communities, hospitals about which we can be proud.”

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Attorneys for Canyon asked a judge for a preliminary injunction, arguing Tower Health had violated the terms of the contract by backing out of the initial deal to sell Canyon the hospitals without giving advance notice.

A decision on the injunction is expected this week.

Meanwhile, the Coatesville area nonprofit Alliance for Health Equity announced Monday that it had formed a task force, made up of representatives from nearly 20 local and county organizations, that will look to address the immediate impact of the closures and “rebuild a strong and equitable healthcare system in the region.”

“We really just wanted to make sure that we had an opportunity to convey to our community, particularly those that have been impacted by the closure, what’s actually happening at a local level,” Vanessa Briggs, president and chief executive officer of the Alliance for Health Equity, told WHYY News.

The Health Services Leadership Group Task Force will be divided into two subgroups: advocacy and coordinated health services. The advocacy group plans to conduct a community needs assessment to “capture the concerns and health care needs of residents related to the hospital closures.” The coordinated health services team will look to identify health care system gaps.

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Briggs said that as a predominantly low-income area and as the only city in Chester County, Coatesville faces hurdles many people associate with larger metropolitan areas: housing and food insecurity, as well as economic inequality — issues that negatively impact residents’ health. That adds to the health disparities among people of different incomes and races in the county.

“Because it has limited resources and access to services, it is wrought with higher precedence of health disparities. So we see greater diseases around cardiovascular disease, hypertension, asthma, obesity, etc.,” Briggs said. “And so there are some of the nuances that we would see that are probably more concentrated in that area that the hospital serves, when we compare that to the county as a whole.”

She hopes that with the help of county and local stakeholders, the task force can help close these health care gaps, while also looking to revitalize hospital services in the surrounding areas.

In a statement, the Chester County Commissioners thanked the Alliance for Health Equity for creating the task force.

“We believe in its potential to become a model that communities throughout the rest of Chester County and the commonwealth could call upon to address the short-term impacts of hospital closures and the long-term design of a health care system driven by community needs and equity.”

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