New life for Jennersville Hospital11/23/2021 03:01PM ● By Steven Hoffman
A lifeline has been extended to Jennersville Hospital—and to all the residents in southern Chester County who might one day find themselves needing emergency treatment at the facility. Canyon Atlantic Partners, LLC has reached an agreement to purchase Jennersville Hospital and Brandywine Hospital from Tower Health just weeks before the hospital in Penn Township was slated to be closed by its current owner.
At a press conference in the Penn Township Park on Monday afternoon, state and local officials expressed their thankfulness and relief that the two Chester County hospitals now have more secure futures following the acquisition. State Rep. John Lawrence joined State Sen. Carolyn Comitta, Chester County Commissioners Marian Moskowitz, Josh Maxwell, and Michelle Kichline, Penn Township supervisor Victor Mantegna, and other local officials to announce the continued operation of Jennersville Hospital.
“Today’s announcement is welcome news for our community,” said Lawrence. “For the past seven weeks, we have worked night and day to find a solution to keep this facility open for the people of our community, and keep this Emergency Room open for the acute medical needs of our area. I am so grateful for each person that contacted my office to voice their support, and especially to the hardworking first responders with Medic 94, Union Fire Company, and West Grove Fire Company, who serve our community with such dedication. Keeping the Jennersville ER open is critical both for them and our community.”
Canyon Atlantic Partners, LLC will assume ownership and take over the operations of the facilities effective January 1, 2022, which was the date that Tower Health had targeted for the closure of Jennersville Hospital. Canyon Atlantic Partners is a Texas-based hospital ownership and management organization with extensive experience and expertise in healthcare operations, healthcare finance, and the strategic integration of hospitals and healthcare resources.
While planning for the transfer of operations continues, Tower Health has suspended planning for the closure of Jennersville Hospital. The nearly 300 employees affiliated with the hospital had recently been formally notified of the impending closing. Now, all clinical and non-clinical staff in good standing at both hospitals will be offered employment by Canyon Atlantic Partners effective on the date of transfer. Canyon Atlantic Partners will also assume ownership of all inpatient and outpatient services associated with the hospitals.
Jennersville Hospital has been on life support since a late September announcement by Tower Health’s Board of Directors that the facility would be closed as a part of the health system’s long-term plans to improve its financial situation. Based in Reading, Pa., Tower Health purchased five local hospitals, including Brandywine Hospital and Jennersville Hospital, for $423 million in 2017. Tower Health has struggled to find a way to make the hospitals in that acquisition profitable since then, and the pandemic worsened the health system’s financial woes that were brought on by the heavy debt incurred by the transaction. This prompted Tower Health to search for a buyer for Brandywine Hospital and Jennersville. The announcement that Jennersville Hospital would be closing at the end of the year sent shockwaves through the local community. Many local officials lamented the loss of southern Chester County’s only emergency room, especially since there is a large, and aging, population in Jennersville Hospital’s service area.
In the days after the closing was announced, Lawrence and Penn Township officials vowed to do anything possible to find a viable solution that would keep Jennersville Hospital open. Local officials from numerous other municipalities joined the growing chorus of concerns about the possible closing of Jennersville Hospital and its emergency room. The closing would have resulted in much longer wait times until residents could receive treatment during a medical emergency. Additionally, Southern Chester County Emergency Medical Service, also known as Medic 94, operates at Jennersville Hospital, and a closure of the Jennersville emergency room would have directly impacted Medic 94 and the already overworked volunteer ambulance services in the area.
Ultimately, that public outcry from the community played an important part in the effort to find a way to keep the hospital open.
State Sen. Carolyn Comitta said, “This is a win for the community that was driven by the community – the residents, patients, staff, doctors, nurses, and medical personnel served by and employed by Jennersville Hospital. They spoke up and stood up. Together, we worked with various stakeholders to amplify their voices and ensure that this vital community asset and center for medical and emergency care in southern Chester County is preserved.”
In a statement announcing the sale, Sue Perrotty, the president and CEO of Tower Health, referenced the concerns that were raised by local officials and residents.
“We listened to the community and redoubled our efforts to keep Jennersville and Brandywine Hospitals open,” Perrotty said. “We are deeply grateful for the commitment of our staff, who showed steadfast dedication to our patients throughout this process. We have a lot of hard work ahead but believe this transaction represents the best opportunity for the two hospitals.”
Local officials played a pivotal role in the effort to save Jennersville Hospital from being closed.
Lawrence, Comitta, and Moskowitz participated in numerous calls and in-person meetings after Tower Health’s late-September closure announcement. A particular focus developed in keeping the Emergency Room open because alternate facilities are located more than 40 minutes away. Recent population increases and the growth of senior living options across the southern part of the county also contributed to the need to find a solution.
Lawrence said that the priority was always finding a way to keep the emergency room open.
“This ER could not close,” he said. “That just could not happen.”
The Chester County Commissioners were at the event and they took turns talking about the importance of hospitals to the community as well as the bipartisan effort to find a solution to the possible closing of Jennersville Hospital. They also issued a joint statement saying, “Confirmation that hospital services, especially emergency treatment, will continue at Jennersville and Brandywine is excellent news, and we are grateful to the leadership at Tower Health for working to find a way to keep the operations going. Together with Representative Lawrence and Senator Comitta, we have been trying to secure ways to keep Jennersville and Brandywine open. We look forward to working with the new hospital operator to ensure the range of healthcare services continue.”
Victor Mantegna, the chair of the Penn Township Board of Supervisors, said that they all hoped and prayed that a solution to the situation could be found, and they thought one might come in the 11th hour—perhaps after Christmas, in the last few days before the hospital would close. But here they were, on November 22, a few days before Thanksgiving, and they were able to make the announcement that they’d all hoped to make.
“We’re thrilled that the hospital will stay open,” Mantega said. “Everybody should be ecstatic.”
Mantegna and his colleagues on the Penn Township Board of Supervisors—William “Radar” O’ Connell, Jay Ennis, Curtis Mason, and Laura Sperratore—collectively issued the following statement regarding the sale of Jennersville Hospital:
“Jennersville Hospital has faithfully provided for the health, safety and welfare of southern Chester County residents for over 100 years. On behalf of the Penn Township supervisors, the community of Penn Township, and our neighboring townships throughout southern Chester County, we would like to thank our Pennsylvania Department of Health, Senator Carolyn Comitta, Representative John Lawrence, our Chester County Commissioners, Board of Supervisors, Staff and Tower Health for working diligently together to preserve our Jennersville Hospital as well as the Brandywine Hospital with this sale. The effort to save our hospital has truly been a Board and community priority, and when our community works together in a bipartisan fashion, amazing things always result. We look forward to continuing our close partnership with Jennersville Hospital and working hand in hand with its new owners for years to come as we continue the effort to keep our community healthy, safe, and well.”
A community hospital has operated in Penn Township since 1959. That’s when the West Grove Community Hospital moved to the current location on Baltimore Pike. The hospital operated under that name until it was renamed the Southern Chester County Medical Center, a name it kept for decades until the hospital was acquired by a larger health system. Now, Canyon Atlantic Partners will operate the hospital and begin a new chapter in the facility’s life.
“Canyon Atlantic Partners is honored to be chosen to build on the accomplishments of Tower Health and will prioritize working closely with their communities and medical staff to ensure we meet their needs,” said David Kreye, president and CEO of Canyon Atlantic Partners.“We look forward to bringing our substantial experience in acute care hospital turnaround and growth to further elevate the hard work of the excellent medical staff at Brandywine and Jennersville Hospitals, and ultimately making an impact with the greater community that they serve.”