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Chester County Press

Legislators call for reforms to hospital closure process

05/09/2023 03:54PM ● By Steven Hoffman
In response to recent hospital closures in areas across Pennsylvania, State Sen. Carolyn Comitta, State Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, and State Rep. Jennifer O’Mara are working to reform the process to better position impacted communities and residents.
They have introduced legislation to increase the notice hospitals must give before closing a facility from 90 to 180 days, require more community input, data collection, and public hearings before a closure, and establish more comprehensive and defined standards for procedure and notification of a closure.
The lawmakers brought together healthcare advocates, county officials, and fellow legislators for a special press conference in Harrisburg in support of the legislation – House Bill 158 and its companion bill, Senate Bill 184.
“Hospitals are part of our communities and when one closes it can have a destabilizing impact across an entire region,” Comitta said. “That’s why communities facing hospital closures need more time, input, and information. This legislation aims to empower communities to better address, prepare for, and potentially avert the wide-ranging impacts of these closures.” 
“Communities across the commonwealth are suffering from an inadequate hospital closure process – hurting patients, jeopardizing the livelihoods of hospital staff, and costing local economies,” Pashinski said. “House Bill 158 and Senate Bill 184 would ensure that those most impacted by a potential closure have a voice in any major decision to close or reduce services, creating a fairer process for all. We are ready and willing to work with anyone – Republican, Democrat, independent or health care systems – to find solutions to this problem and prevent sudden closures from happening again in the future.” 
The hospital closures have had a cascading effect on other health services and emergency transport providers, including increased emergency room wait times and ambulance transport times. 
“When someone needs emergency care every second counts,” O’Mara said. “With only a 90-day notice of a closure, communities do not have enough time to transition into other care options. With this legislation, we are giving individuals, communities, health care providers, and workers more time to figure out these critical health care situations.” 
Joining the legislators were Marian Moskowitz, chair of the Chester County Board of Commissioners, and Monica Taylor, chair of the Delaware County Council. Both Chester County and Delaware County have been dealing with the ramifications of recent hospital closures. 
“We are in a health care crisis in Delaware County,” Taylor said. “On behalf of Delaware County, you have our support of this bill and we will continue to do everything we can to ensure that every resident has access to quality healthcare and emergency health services.” 
“When Tower Health announced the closure of not just one, but two hospitals in Chester County it was devastating to the communities they serve,” Moskowitz said. “I thank Senator Comitta and our Chester County elected officials for all they have done and continue to do to bring emergency service back to our communities and ensure there are crucial safety nets, so this never happens again.” 
House Bill 158, introduced by Pashinski and O’Mara, is in the House Health Committee. Senate Bill 184, introduced by Comitta, is in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.