Brandywine Hospital, Coatesville, Pa., and its former owner have reached a $2.5 million settlement of a legal challenge filed by the former owner over the June 2002 closing of the hospital's trauma center. Community Health Systems, Brentwood, Tenn., bought the hospital in June 2001 from not-for-profit Brandywine Health Systems Corp., which still oversees some business issues and land related to the hospital. Investor-owned Community agreed to maintain Level II trauma services at the hospital as part of the purchase, but the hospital was forced to end the services a year later because of skyrocketing malpractice insurance premiums for trauma surgeons, hospital spokeswoman Evelyn Walker said. The hospital's emergency room remains open, and a helicopter service next to the ER can airlift stabilized patients to a Level I trauma center in about 15 minutes, Walker said.
The Brandywine Health and Wellness Foundation, which was established with the proceeds of the hospital sale, will receive $1 million and 19 other local charities will receive $1.5 million in the settlement, said Frances Sheehan, the foundation's president and chief executive officer. Payments will be made over three years. The settlement doesn't restore needed trauma services but does provide funding for needed programs, especially for the uninsured, Sheehan said. It must be approved by Chester County (Pa.) Orphans' Court, where the former owner's challenge was filed. -- by Vince Galloro