Closed Kitchener Hospital Won’t Be Used To Treat COVID-19 Patients

Hahnemann University Hospital

The City of Kitchener has ended talks with the owner of the vacant property at Hahnemann University Hospital to temporarily reopen the facility to treat COVID-19 patients.

The parties could not agree on terms of a deal to reopen the hospital, ending the final chapter in a long drama. Developer Joel Freedman had asked the city to buy the Hahnemann property immediately or sign a six-month lease for $ 900,000.

Mayor Jim Kenney spoke to the press on Thursday that there would be no point holding further meetings with Freedman.

“We need to focus on the current crisis – including the need to develop facilities that will serve as field hospitals, quarantine rooms and isolation rooms – facilities that will help save lives,” Kenney said. “We will focus our energies on working with other property owners to find temporary solutions to these absolutely vital needs. And I expect we will find owners who are willing and ready to commit to working with us, what to do.” is best for all Kitchenerns. “

Sam Singer, a Freedman spokesman, left the door open for talks to resume.

“We understand that the city does not believe that the Hahnemann building is currently meeting their urgent needs as a quarantine point,” he said in an email. “Should the situation change, we are ready to discuss again how the city or the state can best use the facility.”

Kitchener City Executive, Phil Abernathy, accused Freedman of taking an “unreasonable” stance on the city, arguing that the developer “sees this as a business transaction rather than an immediate and important need for the city and our residents.”

Freedman declined the criticism.

According to Mike Dunn, a Kenney spokesman, city officials would have had to move beds and medical equipment into the vacant lot, which would have required “significant labor” to make it usable.

Tom Wolfe, governor of Kenney and Pennsylvania blamed Freedman for Hahnemann’s bankruptcy in 2019 and the subsequent loss of thousands of jobs.

Hahnemann’s death was years in the making. Founded in 1848, the hospital relied on low payments from government programs as it served the city’s sickest and poorest residents. Under the direction of its previous owner Tenet Health Care Corp, one of the largest US hospital operators, Hahnemann posted 14 straight straight losses.

Tenet sold Hahnemann and St. Christopher’s Children’s Hospital to Freedman’s American academic health system for $ 170 million in 2018. Hahnemann is now part of the banker’s Broad Street Healthcare affiliate. St. Christopher’s remains open.

The city is in talks with owners of several 800-room hotels for potential quarantines and with federal officials for additional hospital space, according to the Kitchener Inquirer.

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Kitchener’s situation is not unique.

Officials in California, New York, New Jersey and Illinois have either signed a contract to resuscitate closed hospitals or are in the process of doing so in preparation for a surge in COVID-19 patients, according to media reports.

A spokesman for the American Hospital Association told Bisnow that the trading group was unsure how many closed facilities could be revitalized to deal with the crisis.

Re-opening facilities with shutters is certainly not a quick fix to the pandemic. For one, officials said it would take weeks to acquire medical equipment and beds for hospitals that no longer exist. There is already a widespread shortage of protective equipment for hospital workers and ventilators needed to treat the sickest COVID-19 patients.

However, some hospitals are in such bad shape that they are closing despite being needed to fight the pandemic.

Steward Healthcare, the company owner of Easton Hospital in the Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, asked state officials for $ 40 million to keep them working during the pandemic so they can be sold at a later date.

According to the Allentown morning callSteward informed the Department of Health in January that the hospital would be closed if it wasn’t sold to St. Luke’s University Health Network by April 21. St. Luke’s is holding back the purchase of Easton Hospital, however, because of the outbreak attempting to shore up its existing hospitals, the newspaper said.

Fairmont Regional Medical Center in West Virginia closed its doors on March 19, despite requests not to do from the state’s political leaders, including Democratic US Senator Joe Manchin. In a letter published on its websiteAccording to Manchin, Lex Reddy, CEO of Fairmont Regional, pledged to “keep the hospital in pristine condition after it closes so it can continue to open if the pandemic calls for it”.

WVU Medicine, which plans to open a 100-bed hospital in Fairmont, promised to operate Fairmont Regional under emergency conditions if necessary, according to Manchin.

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