Hearing identifies maternity deserts in Delaware County

Hearing identifies maternity deserts in Delaware County

Problems with recent closures are now being realized in communities across the region

DELAWARE, May 11 – Delaware County lawmakers challenge Crozer Health plans to close facilities in the area held a hearing today to understand the impact the shutdown has had on area pregnant women before joining medical professionals protesting outside Delaware County Memorial Hospital.

Representative Gina H. Curry and Representative Mike Zabel, both D-Delaware, hosted the hearing at the auditorium of Monsignor Bonner Catholic High School & Arch-Bishop Prendergast.

“I’ve had conversations directly with Crozer Health about their closures and despite government funding, they put their own profits on community needs,” Zabel said. “Today’s hearing showed that pregnant women in Delaware County have been forgotten. I’m sick of healthcare companies like Prospect Medical Holdings treating communities in Pennsylvania like this.

This year, Crozer Health announced the closure of a number of its facilities in an effort to reduce costs “so that it can continue to provide the highest quality care.” The closures included maternity care at Delaware County Memorial Hospital, affecting members of the Delaware County community today.

Samia Bristow, Senior Director of Programs for the Maternity Care Coalition, explained that local community impacts are now being realized. The community Bristow serves has virtually no access to prenatal care due to barriers to accessing a facility that provides the care they need. Additionally, she shared that the closure of the facilities changes the very fabric of the growing family community.

Lawmakers heard from Angela Neopolitano, an emergency department nurse at Memorial Hospital, who shared compelling testimony about cases where she discharged working mothers, forcing them into an ambulance to transfer them to the nearest facility that will help deliver her child. Maternity care isn’t the only service Prospect Medical Holdings is cutting in the region.

“Closing Crozer Health facilities means people will have to travel 45 to 60 minutes to get to a hospital where they can receive care, Curry said. “It is a dangerous and terrifying prospect. We must work immediately to remedy the maternity care desert that now exists in Delaware County. Whether it’s holding this society accountable or working to increase funding and reduce barriers to care, we’re ready to act.

Witnesses shared potential funding avenues, including doulas, lactation support, and community programs that offer support to parenting families and birthing individuals. Additional testimony came from Dr. Monica Taylor, president of the Delaware County Council, and Theresa Pettaway, founder and executive director of the Pettaway Pursuit Foundation Inc.

Rep. Mike Schlossberg, D-Lehigh, added, “As a father, I can’t imagine what it would be like to be turned away from the local hospital in my community. This issue is becoming pervasive in our community and is impacting both rural and urban communities.

Rep. Morgan Cephas, D-Phila., said, “We need to find solutions to eliminate health care deserts, especially when it comes to maternity care. We are reviewing the licensing and certification processes for doulas as well as the reimbursement structure that exists in Pennsylvania, and we remain committed to finding solutions.

After the hearing, lawmakers marched to the Delaware County Memorial Hospital to join nurses and technicians protesting outside the hospital. The event was called an “information picket” and is the second event hosted by the Association of Pennsylvania Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals regarding Cozer’s planned closures.

Written testimony and information about this and other Pennsylvania House Democratic Policy Committee hearings is available at pahouse.com/policycommittee.

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