PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A Philadelphia Common Pleas judge has granted part of the city’s request for a preliminary injunction against the closure of Hahnemann University Hospital.
Judge Nina Padilla ruled that Hahnemann’s owners are prohibited “from closing, ceasing operations, or in any way further reducing or disrupting services” at the hospital’s emergency room “without a closure plan authorized by the Health Commissioner….”
Hahnemann’s owners had fought the injunction request, arguing all legal action is now up to Bankruptcy Court, but the judge concluded she does have limited power in connection to the city’s exercise of regulatory authority.
City solicitor Marcel Pratt says the city is pleased with the ruling.
“It recognizes the city and health commissioner’s authority to approve the closure of a hospital with an emergency department,” Pratt said,
The hospital’s attorney says Hahnemann will continue to work with the city and state to insure patient safety.
Hahnemann’s emergency room is already diverting high level trauma cases, but Pratt says it will continue to treat minor health issues.
“We don’t want to see them reduce services that will impact public health in an unsafe way so that at every stage, we want to be engaged with them and that’s what this order does. It just reaffirms that the city has to approve what’s happening,” he added.
The city’s also been monitoring the number of patients being seen at other hospitals.
The health department says some have reported an increase, but not overwhelming and within historical norms.
Protesters boosted by judge’s ruling
And on Tuesday, medical students joined together to speak out against the closure of the hospital, and the protest was boosted by the judge’s ruling.
Kristen Spiegel, a second year medical student at Drexel University, said the judge’s ruling shows there is still hope.
“That’s great. Hopefully that means this is something that people are paying attention to, that people are realizing how big of a deal this is. I’d like to see the momentum keep going,” she said.
Spiegel was joined by more than two dozen protesters – other medical students from schools around the city – as they rallied in solidarity in front of Hahnemann to protest its closure.
“It’s completely an example of the failure of the healthcare system in America right now,” she said.
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Spiegel added she does not want the hospital’s plight to fall on deaf ears.
“I hope that can become a national example of what needs to change, what needs to happen in order for the patients that need the most help in order to get that help that they need, especially in an urban, underserved area like Philadelphia.”
The protesters went from Hahnemann to the office of the real estate developer who own the property as they called for them not to make the building into luxury condos.
KYW Newsradio’s Justin Udo contributed to this report.