Temple University Children’s Medical Center, after a decade of operating in the red and losing $19 million last year, will shut down and move its inpatient services to St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, hospital officials announced last Monday.
The 25-year partnership, which has been discussed since July and will be solidified Dec. 1, will allow Temple medical students to fulfill pediatric requirements at St. Christopher’s. Pediatricians will practice there as well, but their offices will remain at the Temple Health Sciences Campus.
Overall, 35 administrative and staff positions will be eliminated, according to a university press release. Specific arrangements for the faculty whose contracts will be terminated are not determined at this time. However, those directly affected will receive assistance in locating other employment.
The TUCMC will continue to provide emergency pediatric and infant intensive care, as well as certain outpatient services to children. The building will also be used for other services that are yet to be determined, Frank Campbell, a senior adviser for health care affairs at the medical center said, adding that newly-freed space will allow the use of private rooms.
The TUCMC opened in 1997 after the now-defunct Allegheny Health System took over St. Christopher’s, which originally allowed Temple medical students to make rounds there.
The Temple University Health System created a clinical hospital ultimately for educational purposes, but the hospital always struggled. It never earned a profit in its decade-long existence and averaged less than two dozen patients on any given day.
“We thought we could do it on a clinical side and it didn’t come to pass,” Campbell said. “Philadelphia is a tough market. We have CHOP [Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia] and St. Christopher’s here, and to operate a freestanding children’s hospital is probably not what’s in the best interest now.”
A large under- and uninsured patient base has caused financial difficulties for the TUHS as a whole, Temple associate vice president Mark Eyerly said, adding that the situation poses problems for most urban teaching hospitals.
St. Christopher’s, a 170-bed facility with a staff of more than 270 pediatric specialists, will be expanding their facilities by adding 18 beds and two operating room suites. Although Temple will conduct most of its pediatric student studies at St. Christopher’s, the Drexel University College of Medicine will remain the primary academic affiliate of St. Christopher’s.
The TUCMC will be retained and used for health care delivery but no other specific decisions have been made at this time. Terms negotiated between St. Christopher’s and TUCMC have not been disclosed.
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