Pennsylvania State Representatives Eddie Day Paschinski and Jennifer O’Mara have introduced legislation that would bring more accountability to the process of hospital closures.
If passed, the bill ensures that hospital systems will have to double the time in which they must notify state and local agencies of a planned closure from 90 to 180 days. In addition, the legislation will establish more comprehensive standards for procedure and notification of a planned closure, calling on input from the community, data collection, public comment and public hearings.
Pennsylvania had a series of hospitals closures this last year. First Hospital in Kingston, Pa. Announced in August 2022 that it would close by Oct. 30, 2022. Meanwhile, Delaware County Memorial Hospital in Drexel Hill closed in Nov. 20. The state also has 12 rural hospitals at risk of closure.
“When a community hospital closes down, hundreds of thousands of people suddenly need to figure out how to access emergency health care. This especially applies to maternity wards, because if one of only two local labor and delivery units moves 30 minutes away, it creates a health care desert - especially for women. This can cause maternal, infant and child health to suffer while displacing staff,” O’Mara said. “Moving forward, it’s important that state law better prioritizes public health by giving communities more time to arrange new health care services. My district struggled with this, but the 90-day notice for the closure of Delaware County Memorial Hospital followed Pennsylvania law. Therefore, our bill aims to change this to a 180-day notice to allow for a smoother transition while ensuring everyone can still access quality health care.”
The bill has 17 co-sponsors and awaits referral to committee.
Mackenna Moralez is the associate editor for the facilities market.