ChristianaCare: West Grove campus emergency dept. site won’t open for at least a year

The former Jennersville Hospital will reopen as a medical campus, operated by ChristianaCare. But the initial phase, which calls for emergency medicine, is still a year from opening, company officials say.

Leaders from ChristianaCare and local elected officials provided an update last week on the status of the former Jennersville Hospital which the health care company purchased in June and expects to reopen on some basis — but the initial phase of what will be the ChristianaCare West Grove Campus, likely to include emergency medical care, but that is likely at least a year in the future before being ready to open.

Since June when ChristianaCare announced the purchase of the former Jennersville Hospital from Tower Health, ChristianaCare leaders have been meeting regularly with community leaders and small groups to gain input into planning for what is now called the ChristianaCare West Grove Campus.

The company shared shared new details about the planning process for the campus with Chester County business leaders at an event organized and led by State Rep. John Lawrence (R-13) and hosted at the Herr’s Snack Factory visitor center auditorium.

“As a nonprofit health system, we have a mission of service to our neighbors—and you are our neighbors. We are honored and so excited to be here to support your health needs in southern Chester County,” said Douglas P. Azar, ChristianaCare senior vice president, strategic clinical integration.

After a brief overview of ChristianaCare, Azar addressed the the West Grove plan and the timetable.

“Emergency services has quickly risen as the most significant need in this community,” Azar said. “It continues to come up time and again in our discussions with the community that the most urgent need is emergency care. That’s our first priority.”

Azar explained that ChristianaCare plans to take a phased approach to development at the campus, and ChristianaCare’s intent is to include emergency services in the first phase. Plans are in development now—and they continue to be informed by what he and other ChristianaCare leaders are hearing from the community. He said that those plans will likely be finalized and shared with the community sometime later this fall.

ChristianaCare opened a freestanding emergency department in Middletown, Delaware, in 2013, and Azar said that learnings from the success of that facility have been invaluable in planning for West Grove.

“Middletown is a fantastic facility that is really beloved by the Middletown community. It’s a great model, and there are many learnings from that model that are informing our planning for West Grove. However, the West Grove Campus will be unique, and we are using all of the good information we’ve heard over the past several months to create a care model and structure that will best meet this community’s needs.”

Azar was joined by Chris Coletti, M.D., MHCDS, FACEP, FACP, clinical effectiveness officer and vice chair of Emergency Medicine, who talked about the kinds of care ChristianaCare is able to provide at the Middletown Emergency Department and how that might translate to what’s being considered for the West Grove Campus.

“As an emergency medicine team working remotely from our main hospitals, we’re really focused on meeting the needs of our patients, whatever they might be. Our team is incredibly skilled at that, and we’re able to address a wide variety of needs right in the Emergency Department,” Coletti said. He cited care for broken bones, heart attack and stroke as some of the capabilities that are available in an emergency care setting.

The loss of Jennersville Hospital left southwest Chester County with no emergency medical care — patients must either go to Chester County Hospital in West Chester or to Lancaster County.

“When Jennersville Hospital closed, it was a gut-punch to this community,” Lawrence said. “I as much as anyone would like the new facility opened tomorrow to restore needed services to our area. But it’s even more important that it be done right, because this community deserves the highest quality of care.”

“You’re absolutely right,” Azar said. “We’re committed to opening the West Grove Campus as quickly as we can. At the same time, we’re going to take the time to do this right so that you have a facility that is excellent—and that you can be proud of in this community.”

While he said it’s too early to know when services will open at the West Grove Campus, it’s unlikely that it will be within the next 12 months.

Azar provided some insight into the current state of the facility, based on ChristianaCare’s assessments and inventory following the acquisition. While it does contain some usable equipment, including hospital beds and some imaging and diagnostic equipment, other aspects of the facility are going to be “starting from scratch.” He said that the building currently contains no information technology infrastructure, and the laboratory is completely empty of equipment.

“I’m highlighting these as just a few examples to give you some insight into the complexity of the work ahead,” Azar said. “As you know, supply chain issues are impacting every industry right now, and it’s too early to know whether it will create significant delays or none at all.”

Azar said that ChristianaCare is intent on listening to community members and learning from them what the needs are so that ChristianaCare can be the best possible partner. Following the brief presentation, he asked the audience to share their own concerns or recommendations.

Audience members voiced their desire for the project to move swiftly, without sacrificing quality for speed. Several participants cited the need for behavioral health and addiction treatment services in the community, and the ChristianaCare leaders acknowledged that these are on the list of priorities for this campus, although likely not in phase one.

Several members of the audience spoke as business owners about challenges related to workers’ compensation care, which was a topic that the ChristianaCare representatives said they hadn’t heard in previous discussions, and they’d take that information back for further discussion.

Audience members also cited the aging community and the need for services that support older adults.


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