“I’m very excited that Chester County Hospital is now part of Penn Medicine,” said Garry Scheib, HUP’s executive director, at last month’s ‘Meal with an Administrator.' Having The Chester County Hospital and Health System (TCCHHS) as part of UPHS, he said, will not only help to expand Penn Medicine’s health-care services into that region but also increase the percentage of patients from that area who come to our hospitals. “Prior to our talks with Chester County about joining the Health System, the hospital transferred approximately 30 patients per month; 10 came to Penn. In April through June, approximately 20 transfers per month came to HUP,” he said.
Scheib said the transaction was not a purchase. Rather, it was a sole member transfer. “In the same way the University of Pennsylvania owns the Health System, a local non-profit foundation owned Chester County Hospital,” he explained. “They transferred sole member ownership to the University.” Penn Medicine will invest capital into Chester County’s buildings initially but Scheib said it is expected to be self-funding from improved Chester County Hospital financial performance.
Chester County Hospital was one of a dwindling number of independent hospitals in the area. “In today’s health-care environment, hospitals need to be part of a bigger system to survive.”
Construction Continues Throughout UPHS
Penn Medicine at Washington Square officially opened last month, at 8th and Walnut Streets. It will house most of the ambulatory practices at Pennsylvania Hospital, which are now located in several buildings. “So much of health care is shifting to an outpatient setting,” Scheib said. “This facility will allow better care coordination and hopefully attract more patients,” similar to what the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine has done for HUP’s outpatient care.
The Penn Center for Specialty Care, for outpatient services at Penn Presbyterian, is currently under construction at 3737 Market Street. Completion is scheduled for next fall. PPMC’s Advanced Care Hospital Pavilion is under construction as well. When completed in January 2015, it will house Penn Medicine’s Level 1 Trauma program and all the services needed to support the program, including new ORs, CCUs, and enhanced radiology services.
Penn Medicine’s long-term goals are to build patient towers where Penn Tower and its garage now stand. To start the multiple-step process, the Perelman Center is being expanded, with the addition of the South Pavilion. This will allow most outpatient services still in Penn Tower and HUP to be moved to Perelman when construction is completed.
A new 1,500-car parking garage is being built on Lot 51. When completed, the Penn Tower garage –- which Scheib said would cost almost as much to maintain as putting up the new parking garage -– will be torn down. Once all services have been removed from Penn Tower, it will come down as well. If the University Board approves, a new patient tower, with an expected 200 to 300 beds, will be built on the site within the next four to five years.
In financial news, HUP had a good start to FY14, with strong surgical patient activity in July and August. Scheib said that Moody’s, a bond-rating organization, recently reaffirmed HUP’s Aa3 stable outlook. “It’s very difficult to maintain a stable outlook in health care and we want to keep it that way.
“Many exciting things are happening at Penn Medicine, aimed at making sure we can meet patient demand and solidify our financial standing,” he continued. “We have one of the strongest balance sheets of any hospital in the region.”
Flu Season and More
Flu season is almost upon us and the UPHS flu vaccine campaign is up and running. Flu fairs kick off at HUP on Wednesday, October 9, and will run through Wednesday, October 23. Click here for more information.
Penn’s Way has begun as well. Scheib encouraged participants to donate “whatever you can.” Money donated to HUP will go towards helping patients who can’t afford to pay for their medications upon discharge.
The look of e-STAR has changed, said Judy James, HUP’s associate chief HR officer. “Knowledge Link has a short tutorial about it. The look is different but the functions remained the same.”
One employee asked about the possibility of onsite health clinics where employees could be treated for illness rather than taking time away from patient care. Scheib said part of the problem is finding physical space. Also, “it’s not just HUP -- we’re spread over multiple states, in multiple locations. Making the service available to all 20,000 employees is one of our challenges. We are looking at alternatives that would improve our employee health service.”