PA hospital's planned closure causes anger

Plans to close Northeastern Hospital, a 189-bed community hospital in the Temple University Health System, is causing anger among several area residents, doctors and nurses, alike. Many opposed to the closing believe that the facility's current patients will simply go without treatment once the hospital closes, noting that a good portion of the area's residents (40 percent) fall below the federal poverty line, and thus don't have the means to travel. 

Still, it's not as if the hospital has much choice. Temple University Health System, which received 76 percent of its revenue from the government in fiscal 2007, had a $31 million net loss in the last six months of 2008 alone. The system received $60 million in government funding last year to treat poor people. 

"You can't expect these people to get on a bus to Broad and Allegheny and walk to Temple," said Northeastern ER nurse Beverly Soska. "I wish there were something that someone could do to wake Temple [executives] up to what they are turning their backs on....These are human beings who need an ER." 

Northeastern treats nearly 50,000 patients each year in its emergency room, and delivers about 1,800 annually. But the hospital lost $6 million in fiscal 2008, and is expected to lose $15 million this year. According to Sandy Gomberg, interim CEO of Temple University Hospital, Northeastern will become a walk-in clinic open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.-peak ER hours--in an attempt to continue serving the community. 

For some, like Northeastern intensive care director Alan Steinbach, that's not enough. 

"We are not just losing an ER," he said. "We are losing a hospital for inpatient problems like gallbladders and appendixes." 

For more on Northeastern's impending closure:
- here's the Philadelphia Inquirer article