The Pennsylvania Department of Health has revoked Hahnemann University Hospital’s state license.
The hospital has been in the process of winding down operations since its owners announced it would close and file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in June. Hahnemann discharged its last patient at the end of July.
Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine on Friday sent a letter to the judge overseeing the bankruptcy case saying the agency had determined Hahnemann no longer met the statutory definition of a hospital. That determination is based on the results of its closure survey on Oct. 29.
But despite being unable to authorize Hahnemann as a hospital anymore, Levine expressed concern about abandoning oversight of the building in its condition.
“I am bringing the current situation at Hahnemann to your attention because I am deeply concerned about the state and security of the building and the supplies and equipment it is housing,” Levine wrote to Judge Kevin Gross.
She noted there are still laboratory and radiology equipment and supplies on site, as well as personal medical records, financial documents, nuclear medicine, and highly flammable chemicals that have not been disposed of in the building.
But, Levine said, because the building doesn’t meet the definition of a hospital, her department has no choice but to revoke the license, rendering Hahnemann essentially unsupervised and unregulated while it still contains dangerous and confidential materials.
“I appreciate that it is far from a simple or quick task to close an over-500-bed hospital, but the completion of this work has been delegated to a small team of extremely hard-working individuals,” Levine wrote. “While I do not want to take away from the effort that they have put forth, the fact is it is just not enough.”
The state had appointed a monitor to oversee the hospital’s closure process; revoking the license means that monitor has now also been removed.
Aside from the safety concerns, the letter deals a blow to Hahnemann’s owners in their effort to sell their residency programs as a part of the bankruptcy proceedings.
Gross had approved the $55 million sale of more than 550 medical residency slots to a consortium of six local health systems led by Jefferson in September, but the federal Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS), which funds the residencies, appealed the decision.
The sale is currently halted while the appeal process proceeds.
Marc Sacks, an attorney for the Justice Department, argued the sale should not be allowed because there is already a public process in place for how to redistribute residency slots when a hospital closes down.
The hospital’s owners argued Hahnemann isn’t technically closed, making the transfer of the residency slots to the Jefferson group a “change in ownership.” Losing its license could substantially weaken that argument.