NEWS
August 14, 2019

New LGBTQ-Focused Medical Center Acquires Hahnemann's Transgender Fellowship After Closure

New LGBTQ-Focused Medical Center Acquires Hahnemann's Transgender Fellowship After Closure

Image via Wiki Commons

By: Kathleen Gaines BSN, RN, BA, CBC

For over 170 years, Hahnemann University Hospital has served the Center City Philadelphia area. Hahnemann is a 496-bed teaching hospital that employs more than 500 medical residents and fellows.

On September 6, Hahnemann Hospital will be closing due to bankruptcy. 

Systematic Closures

In early July, American Academic Health outlined details and anticipated dates for closure of different areas of Hahnemann's University Hospital. The ER closed to all traumas immediately after the initial announcement, and in doing so, Hahnemann lost its accreditation as a Level 1 trauma center.

Hahnemann’s Level 1 Trauma Center was started in 1986 and the first official trauma center for adults in Philadelphia. 

According to their website, the remaining closures are as follows,

  • Elective surgical cases requiring inpatient care, including obstetrics, ended on July 17
  • Inpatient OR closed on July 17
  • Direct inpatient admissions closed on July 19
  • Endoscopy and colonoscopy services ended on July 26
  • Same-day surgeries ended on July 26
  • Infusion center and aphaeresis services ended on July 26
  • Sleep Lab closed on July 26
  • Emergency Department will close on August 16
  • Hospital services such as lab, radiology, blood bank, and pharmacy will close on August 23
  • Outpatient oncology suite is expected to close in late August

While the closure may seem like a surprise to some, inside sources say that there has slowly been a decline in the availability of resources to hospital staff. Equipment was not being properly maintained and supplies were not being restocked. Nurses have stated that they were highly encouraged to use the least amount of supplies needed for a task. It is always important to not waste supplies and cost the healthcare institution money, but the staff was even more keenly aware of this at Hahnemann.

Transgender Fellowship Training Program 

While Hahnemann Hospital has many important departments, the transgender fellowship training program was the first in the Philadelphia region and second in the United States and has been a major breakthrough for the LGBTQ community in the region. Hanhemann's rare program focused solely on the medical and surgical care for transgender patients.

Philadelphia is one of the leading providers in transgender health due to this program and the extensive educational training and outreach program at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM). 

PCOM's program includes required interactive course for second-year medical students, and students learn how to properly support transgender patients, the use of correct names and pronouns, medical needs during the transition, and the proper dosages of hormones.

Medical students at PCOM often work with the LGBTQ community at local clinics throughout the Philadelphia area. Other students work at the Hahnemann clinic, which is one of the largest in the city.

Thomas Jefferson University Hospital To Open a Multi-Disciplinary Gender Center In Summer 2020

Beginning around Summer of 2020, the transgender fellowship training program will move the Thomas Jefferson University Program. Due to Hahnemann University Hospital closing, there will be no fellow during the 2019-2020 year. 

Thomas Jefferson University Hospital is opening a multi-disciplinary gender center that will provide care for the individualized needs of the LGBTQ community. It will also conduct medical research regarding the LGBTQ community.  

The center’s services will include: 

  • Psychiatry
  • Endocrinology 
  • Preventative care
  • Primary care
  • Voice therapy

Dr. Kathy Rumer, the fellowship director, performs more than 400 gender-affirming surgeries each year and has helped individuals from throughout the United States as well as Japan, Australia, France, Iceland, and China.

Hahnemann Hospital’s Legacy

Hahnemann University Hospital will forever be remembered as a leader in the medical community despite its recent turmoil and ongoing closures. Among the numerous hospitals in the Philadelphia area, Hahnemann was the first to accomplish numerous medical breakthroughs, including

  • The region’s first kidney transplant in 1963
  • One of the area’s first bone marrow transplants in 1976
  • The first and only artificial heart transplant in 2001

Founded in 1848, the hospital was originally built as the main teaching hospital for the Hahnemann Medical College and Hospital and was the first homeopathic medical hospital in the country. The hospital has undergone numerous ownership changes, the most recent being American Academic Health System, an affiliate of Paladin Healthcare, who purchased the hospital for $170 million, according to the Philadelphia Business Journal.

Paladin Healthcare’s brand is focused on building strong healthcare systems in urban and suburban areas in some of the most diverse areas of the country, according to its webpage. Joel Freedman, the CEO of Paladin Healthcare, is a California investment banker with no medical training.

In 1993, Hahnemann was purchased by Allegheny Health Education and Research Foundation and was briefly renamed Allegheny University of the Health Sciences. In 1998, Allegheny Health bought the Medical College of Pennsylvania. That same year, Allegheny Health declared bankruptcy and was bought by Tenet Healthcare Corporation, a Texas-based for-profit organization. 

Interestingly, Allegheny Health’s bankruptcy was the nation’s largest of a non-profit health care organization and the only ever reported bankruptcy of a medical school.

Tenet Healthcare Corporation later partnered with Drexel University College of Medicine and became one of the leading academic teaching facilities in the area. Medical students would work closely with doctors and other healthcare professionals to get an extensive hands-on experience.

In January 2018, Tenet sold the last two remaining pieces of Allegheny Health, Hahnemann Hospital, and St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, to American Academic Health System.

Financial Distress

After the sale, it was announced that Hahnemann was losing roughly $3 - $5 million a month and was constantly on the brink of closing. Despite losing money for 14 years straight under Tenet Healthcare, Freedman was convinced he could salvage Hahnemann Hospital and started looking into alternative solutions.

Hundreds of employees, including countless nurses, were laid off in 2018 before the bankruptcy announcement was made. In April alone, 175 employees, including 65 nurses, 22 service and technical workers and 88 non-union employees were laid off.

Finally, on June 26, 2019, American Academic Health announced that due to constant financial losses and turnover of upper management, Hahnemann would officially close in September 2019. The bankruptcy will have no effect on St. Christopher’s Hospital even though it is owned by the same company. How does Hahnemann closing affect Philadelphia nurses?

Nurses working at Hahnemann Hospital have been being laid off systematically while others are being given compensation packages. Senior nurses are finding it increasingly hard to find comparable jobs in the Philadelphia area. 

One nurse reported being offered every other weekend night shift despite having years of experience working every third-weekend day shift. Unfortunately, seniority doesn’t transfer to new healthcare systems and nurses will have to start with the lowest seniority at their new positions.

According to indeed.com, there are over a thousand registered nurse positions available in the Philadelphia area, but most Hahnemann nurses are having problems finding comparable positions. Furthermore, there is stiff competition due to the sudden surge of experienced registered nurses in the Philadelphia area.

The closure of Hahnemann University Hospital is devastating to the Philadelphia medical community. Governor Tom Wolf, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, and Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders have all been attempting to stop the closure of this Philadelphia landmark. All attempts at stopping the closure have failed and currently, there is very little hope the hospital will stay open past September. 

Additional information for patients and staff affected by the closure can be found on the Hahnemann University Hospital website.

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