Tenet Healthcare Corp. plans to close its acute-care services at City Avenue Hospital in Philadelphia and consolidate them within its other Philadelphia facilities by May 1, the company announced last week.
"This is the only consolidation we are contemplating in the Philadelphia market," said Tenet spokesman Harry Anderson.
An outpatient obstetrics unit on the campus of neighboring Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine and an outpatient imaging center will not be affected.
City Avenue is the most financially troubled of eight hospitals Tenet bought in 1998 for $345 million at the bankruptcy auction of Allegheny Health, Education and Research Foundation's assets.
At one point last fall, City Avenue's daily census fell below 60, Anderson said. The hospital is licensed for 228 beds.
Tenet's announcement came two weeks after the company reassigned Lee Domanico, formerly the Pennsylvania region's senior vice president, to an unspecified executive position in California (Jan. 17, p. 17). W. Randolph Smith, executive vice president of operations for Tenet's central-northeast division, replaced Domanico.
When he was head of the region, Domanico pledged Tenet would not close any of the eight AHERF hospitals. His strategy had been to expand services to bring patients in, not to consolidate services (Jan. 4, 1999, p. 33).
Anderson said Tenet did not originally intend to close the hospital, but it had become clear the hospital could not be brought back into the black within a reasonable amount of time.
"We've studied a variety of options over the past six months, but none provided a solution to keep the hospital viable over the long run," Andrea Gilbert, City Avenue's chief executive officer, said in a written statement.
City Avenue had five owners in 10 years and suffered from Allegheny's failed attempt to turn it into a women's hospital. Its aging infrastructure endured 10 years of capital expenditure neglect, Anderson said.
The hospital will work with a task force of people drawn from the public and private sectors to determine alternative healthcare uses for the facility, according to a press release.
The day before the City Avenue announcement, Tenet tried to generate some positive publicity with an announcement that its corporate foundation would donate $225,000 to MCP Hahnemann University for a program to prevent asthma. Hahnemann University Hospital is another one of the former AHERF hospitals Tenet owns in Philadelphia.
Anderson said the timing of the two announcements was purely coincidental. "They are totally unrelated," he said.