scrooge alert: tower health is shuttering two hospitals in chester county, putting residents at risk and will potentially cripple our other hospitals.

Ahh yes, Tower Health. A name synonymous (it seems) with destroying local hospitals. It was announced quite recently that the deal for them to sell Jennersville and Brandywine Hospitals was DOA (dead on arrival.) These hospitals are now to be CLOSED while the world (and our area) still suffers from the global pandemic known as COVID-19. If I have it right, it’s Jennersville by December 31, 2021 and Brandywine by January 31, 2022

Does it seem incomprehensible? YES.

Should it be illegal? Well that is a good question because aren’t there supposed to be hospitals to proportionately serve areas geographically or something? Where are Federal Laws in this? What role does Health and Human Services play in this? What role does that quasi useless lame duck twit of a Governor in Pennsylvania (Tom Wolf) and his ridiculous Court jester who wants to be a US Senator (John Fetterman) play? How about all these lovely State Representatives and State Senators? The Veterans Administration since Brandywine closing will affect places like the VA in Coatesville, etc., etc? Look at mental health services covered by Brandywine? What are the options now? Nothing or Philadelphia?

Tower Health is responsible for their own incompetence morally, fiscally, ethically, legally. However, their gross incompetence here will have disastrous effects on all of us in Chester County.

Ambulance services and first responders will be taking great risks with their lives and patients lives trying to get people to emergency rooms in other areas, all a great distance away.

Chester County Hospital and Paoli Hospitals are already being overrun and overtaxed thanks to these announcements, and that will affect ALL of us because if both Brandywine and Jennersville close their doors that will swamp those two hospitals and what happens to those of us who already use those hospitals and have found them stretched thin due to COVID-19?

And employees of these hospitals? Do we really believe that Tower Health will place them all elsewhere. I call bullsheit on that.

Tower Health is NOT for profit. Since 1997. I just called Tower Health and asked. And I looked them up on Guide Star. I made it to the executive offices. I called in on (484) 628-8000. I got a nice woman on the phone, believe her name was Tracy (didn’t write it down). I asked her is they cared what they were doing to Chester County? She replied that was a hard question but she could have someone call me back. I declined, because after all I do not want platitudes blown up my rear and a little pat on the head. But I found it helpful that you CAN get through to the top. CALL THEM. (It can’t hurt.)

Here is the Tower Health IRS Form 990 from 2020:

And while you are making calls, how about Harrisburg. Go straight to the Governor’s office and tell Tom Wolf. He works for US, not special interests and it is time to remind him. (717)-787-2500. Now it require a teensy bit of patience to reach Wolf’s message takers because first they tell you they can’t help with unemployment claims. Then you get the COVID recording (not long), then you get a real person. I got John. He was very polite, took down my concerns. I asked if they actually made it to the Governor and he said yes. I told them how our entire county was being put at risk by these closures. I could not however, escape the total feeling of Wolf’s office doesn’t care, which of course means MORE people should call.

Next on my list was Congresswoman Chrissy Houlihan’s office in Washington, D.C. (202)- 225-4315. I spoke with Jack. We had an actual conversation. Chrissy’s staff takes down your name, number, concerns. Jack told me they have been getting a lot of calls and he did say for constituents concerned about these hospital closures to CALL their officials. He agreed that it is a good thing for them to hear from constituents. If you do not wish to call Washington DC, Chrissy has a district office in West Chester (610)-883-5050 and Reading (610)-295-0815.

I know that the Chester County Commissioners have been in CONSTANT meetings since this was all announced. They need OUR help to bug these other people. Face it, we need a Christmas miracle. We are ALL at risk if these hospitals close. It is hard enough to get into a hospital NOW with COVID-19, and has been since COVID-19 arrived on the scene.

Here is Tower Health’s stated mission:

THE MISSION OF TOWER HEALTH IS TO PROVIDE COMPASSIONATE, ACCESSIBLE, HIGH QUALITY, COST EFFECTIVE HEALTHCARE TO THE COMMUNITY; TO PROMOTE HEALTH; TO EDUCATE HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONALS; AND TO PARTICIPATE IN APPROPRIATE CLINICAL RESEARCH. TOWER HEALTH (PARENT) IS A NON-PROFIT HEALTHCARE SYSTEM THAT PROVIDES CHARITABLE COMMUNITY-BASED HEALTHCARE SERVICES AND PROGRAMS TO IMPROVE THE HEALTH AND WELL-BEING OF THE PEOPLE AND THE COMMUNITIES IT SERVES IN THE GREATER BERKS, MONTGOMERY AND CHESTER AREAS THROUGH ITS SUBSIDIARIES (SEE FORM 990, SCHEDULE R). SUBSIDIARIES INCLUDE BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO BRANDYWINE HOSPITAL, CHESTNUT HILL HOSPITAL, JENNERSVILLE, HOSPITAL, PHOENIXVILLE HOSPITAL, AND POTTSTOWN HOSPITAL, THE FIVE OF WHICH ARE HELD IN SINGLE MEMBER LLCS THAT TOWER HEALTH IS THE SOLE MEMBER OF. AS A RESULT, THESE ARE TREATED AS DISREGARDED ENTITIES AND ALL OF THEIR INCOME AND ACTIVITIES ARE REPORTED ON TOWER HEALTH’S FORM 990.

~ Tower health via their Guidestar profile

Do we think Tower Health is living up to their mission statement? Ummm…NO or they wouldn’t be closing hospitals, would they? So where is the Bureau of Charities and the Pennsylvania Department of State on this?

There is a petition circulation about Tower Health and the closing of Jennersville and Brandywine Hospitals. It has over 4000 signatures. But I think people need to make the phone calls too. It’s easy to dismiss an online petition, sadly.

I saw Marian Moscowitz interviewed on Fox29 (I rarely watch Fox, just like this particular anchor.) From the interview you can see, that Chester County is flailing with this news. Not saying that to be mean or disrespectful, they just don’t know what to do. In the interview it came out that with these hospitals closing, it means people are at a minimum 40 minutes away for ER medical help. People are going to DIE potentially because of this. And how could Tower Health not truly vet a potential buyer? And Canyon Atlantic Partners who bailed? Their website is a WordPress site….like a blog (like this site.)

Now this is interesting. Via The Sanatoga Post I learned that IF the sale of Jennersville and Brandywine had gone through, they would have been converted to FOR PROFIT hospitals. They aren’t currently because Tower Health is NOT FOR PROFIT. (It gets confusing because BEFORE Tower Health acquired Brandywine and Jennersville I believe those hospitals BEFORE were a FOR PROFIT model. Then when Tower came in they were NOT FOR PROFIT.)

WEST READING PA – Canyon Atlantic Healthcare, the company that proposes to buy Brandywine and Jennersville hospitals from Tower Health, would convert both to for-profit medical centers that “will pay taxes and put money back in the community,” its chief executive officer said in a story published Wednesday (Nov. 24, 2021) by the Philadelphia Business Journal.

The current non-profit status of the two hospitals and others – including those in Pottstown and Phoenixville – acquired by Tower during 2017 from Tennessee-based Community Health Systems Inc. has been a continuing bone of contention among municipalities and school districts where they are located. The promised return of tax payments by Canyon Atlantic would be news welcomed by the taxing entities affected…..The Journal story by Senior Reporter John George also noted that Canyon Atlantic’s chief financial officer, Michael Zwetschkenbaum, earlier worked as CFO of Pottstown Hospital during its ownership by Community Health.

~ Joe Zlomek Sanatoga post 11/28/21

So…now what is what and who is who at Tower Health?

Sue Perrotty (Portia Sue Perroty) interested me. I found a 2018 write up about her via Albright College and well she was connected to the Rendell administration in Harrisburg (worked as Marjorie’s Chief of Staff) and worked for First Union (Now Wells Fargo) and the whole American Realty Capital of it all (quite scandalous a couple of years ago surprised that still exists in print as a connection):

Click on it to really read this!

Here is more about Portia Sue Perrotty based upon an old press release from 2014:

Click on the above screen shots to get them blown up to read easily.

Portia Sue Perrotty is on the board of Global Net Lease…along with folks like Ed Rendell. I found this out via a SEC filing page. She is the Non Executive Director and Independent Director. What is Global Net Lease? Here:

Global Net Lease, Inc. (NYSE: GNL) is a real estate investment trust that focuses on acquiring and managing a globally-diversified portfolio of strategically-located commercial real estate properties which are crucial to the success of GNL’s roster of primarily investment grade corporate tenants.

So what this says to me is this woman is no dummy. And she is obviously connected. So you mean to tell me she couldn’t find a suitable buyer for these hospitals even through her connections? And since she came out of a Rendell administration, like Tom Wolf, what has he known or been aware of regarding this debacle? I am NOT singing a conspiracy theory song, just curious. The world goes round via connections and political and other connections in Pennsylvania have always run deep, deep, deep, right?

Next the Board of Directors. The “Executive Team” can’t fart without their Board of Directors, so here they are:

So some dot connecting on who does what on the board:

Tower Health and it’s board and executives are a bit of a puzzle. Also a Nancy Drew mystery because if you delve into who is who and who they know and where they were (and are) it’s kind of inconceivable they couldn’t find a proper buyer for Brandywine and Jennersville. It is utterly fascinating.

But fascinating isn’t going to save these hospitals, is it? Maybe, Chester County and PA should have paid more attention to an article from this time last year:

Chester County braces for sale or closure of Tower Health’s Brandywine and Jennersville Hospitals

by Harold Brubaker
Updated Dec 19, 2020
Philadelphia Inquirer (December 19, 2020)

When the nonprofit Tower Health bought three Chester County hospitals that had been for-profit since the early 2000s, Maureen Tomoschuk was delighted.

Tomoschuk runs Community Volunteers in Medicine, which arranges free care for uninsured Chester County residents. She had a hard time getting help from Community Health Systems Inc., the for-profit that sold Brandywine, Jennersville, and Phoenixville Hospitals to Tower.

“We were very hopeful and optimistic when Tower took over” about securing more charity care, especially at Brandywine, said Tomoschuk.

Now that optimism has turned to fear that Brandywine might close.

That’s because Tower, just three years after paying $423 million for the three Chester County facilities plus Pottstown and Chestnut Hill Hospitals, is considering selling them in a bid to recover from an unsustainable debt load and massive losses that started even before the coronavirus pandemic slammed the health-care industry.

The Berks County nonprofit told municipal bond investors last month that it hasn’t ruled out closing hospitals it can’t sell….Advised by the gold-plated consulting firm McKinsey & Co., Tower bought the five hospitals from Community Health Systems on Oct. 1, 2017, to expand its clinical footprint from Berks County….Looking south, the Tower board also saw particularly attractive markets around Brandywine and Jennersville, with growing populations and high and relatively fast-growing incomes. Mixed in are pockets of lower-income people in places like Coatesville and Oxford….Instead of quickly becoming lucrative feeders for Reading, the five hospitals have generated more than $400 million in operating losses since Tower acquired them, and now the mystery in Philadelphia health-care circles is who would want to buy them — a particularly fraught question in the cases of Brandywine and Jennersville because these small, semirural hospitals have struggled financially for decades.

Ok so I am guessing they didn’t come sniffing around here because Chester County is wonderful, right? (Yes sign me jaded)

So here we are in a global pandemic called COVID-19 not seen since…1918 and The Spanish Influenza, right? Well guess what else this Inquirer article from December 19, 2020 tells us? How about the genesis of Jennersville Hospital? Curious? Here we go:

Jennersville, which traces its roots to a West Grove clinic founded during the 1918 Spanish influenza outbreak, moved to its current location in 1959, according to the Daily Local News.

Next comes the 2nd article we all should have been paying closer attention to:

Money-losing Tower Health replaces CEO after sustaining big losses in Philly and suburban hospitals. Clint Matthews is following Tower Health’s chief financial officer, Gary Conner, out the door.

by Harold Brubaker

Philadelphia Inquirer
Published Feb 22, 2021

Tower Health, the financially troubled health system that owns six hospitals in the Philadelphia area, announced Monday that it had replaced its chief executive with a board member on an interim basis.

In a move that was unsurprising to health-care leaders in the Philadelphia region, the board replaced Clint Matthews, who led Tower through a dramatic expansion since 2017 in a bid to compete with Philadelphia’s academic medical centers such as Penn Medicine and Jefferson Health. Matthews’ successor is P. Sue Perrotty, 67, a retired bank executive who joined the nonprofit’s board in 2019.

After a massive operating loss of $438 million in the year ended June 30, 2020, and continued losses in the current fiscal year, Tower hired a national consulting firm to help improve its management. The system also engaged an investment bank to consider the sale of hospitals, including the five community hospitals that it bought in 2017 for $423 million.

And then most recently this Inquirer article in October:

Former Tower Health CEO Clint Matthews’ push for more money revealed in Montco court papers. Clint Matthews got a $405,000 bonus for a hospital deal that went sour.

by Harold Brubaker Philadelphia Inquirer
Published Oct 14, 2021

Before his dream of expanding Tower Health went bust, then-chief executive Clint Matthews was offered a compensation deal that included base pay of about $1.15 million and a bonus of $331,500 for the mergers he was about to engineer. He rejected it as “a bit light.”

The Tower board came back with a new offer. In the end, it agreed to increase his base pay by $100,000 ― and to bump the bonus by $73,500…Documents in a Montgomery County court case decided last week explore Matthews’s ambitious acquisitions and his relentless push for high compensation ― a drive that a struggling school system in the area served by his network, Pottstown School District, claimed undercut Tower’s very claim to be a nonprofit…Tower refused to say Wednesday what severance, if any, Matthews had been given. Nor would it disclose how much it is paying his successor, P. Sue Perrotty. It suggested that the public could learn that information once it filed required nonprofit disclosures with the federal government. That may not happen until 2023….When Matthews was gearing up for the hospital acquisitions, his simultaneous complaints about his pay did not sit well with Meg Mueller, a banker and Tower board member.

Then in that October article there is also this one little sentence that also stands out:

Matthews retired abruptly in February, leaving new management, mostly outside consultants, to unravel much of what he and a compliant board had done.

Shakespearean tragedy in the making here or what? Or just a good whodoneit requiring Sherlock Holmes?

Maybe this from September should have been paid attention to…even i it was out of a Reading newspaper:

Tower Health gives its CEO a formal contract
The West Reading-based health system also shakes up management at hospitals in Chester and Montgomery counties

By LISA SCHEID | lscheid@readingeagle.com | Reading Eagle
PUBLISHED: September 1, 2021

P. Sue Perrotty will remain CEO and president of Tower Health as the financially struggling health system finds a path forward in its partnership with Penn Medicine.

The Tower Health board of directors Wednesday announced the health system, which operates six hospitals in the Philadelphia region, has signed a contract with Perrotty.

The board said in a news release that the contract would ensure Perrotty will remain with the organization through its financial and strategic turnaround.

The details of the contract were not disclosed, and Tower declined to answer specific questions about the length of the contract or Perrotty’s salary….The board’s contract with Perrotty comes a month after Tower announced it was aligning with Philadelphia-based Penn Medicine after months of looking for a buyer for the struggling system. Tower recently said it is handing over its nascent liver and kidney transplant program to Penn Medicine.

Tower says Perrotty has been leading a turnaround…..

“Under her tenure, Tower Health’s ongoing financial turnaround has gained momentum, culminating recently with the organization’s first positive quarterly financial performance in more than two years,” Tower said in announcing Perrotty’s contract.

“Sue is a natural leader who has admirably stepped into this role with unwavering dedication and commitment to our organization,” Tom Work, board chair, said in the announcement. “Over her impressive career, Sue has shown a unique ability to inspire and motivate people around a shared goal. Sue has done exactly that as she quickly established a culture of meaningful communication to enhance Tower Health’s clinical services, drive innovation and strengthen our service to the community.”

So if Portia Sue Perrotty is such a strong leader, she should be able to keep at least one if not both hospitals open, right? Or is she merely just another former corporate raider type who doesn’t care about what she can’t see from her window? I.E. Brandywine and Jennersville are to her…expendable?

Found this quote from Lehigh Valley Business from Portia Sue:

Well Portia Sue, how about keeping at least Brandywine open? If not, some day you will probably visited by the four ghosts of Ebenezer Scrooge.

OK one more hyperlink to another Inquirer article…sorry not sorry lots of required reading, but they have been so darn interesting:

Brandywine and Jennersville Hospitals will close, leaving thousands in Chester County without nearby emergency care
A sale planned for Jan. 1 to Canyon Atlantic Partners LLC fell through. Tower needs to cut losses.

by Harold Brubaker Philadelphia Inquirer
Updated Dec 9, 2021

I don’t know what else to say other than the waters of the corporate moat around Tower Health sure are murky, and something is rotten in Reading.

I realize I have taken a long and winding road, it’s just Tower Health and this whole scenario is a wicked and convoluted tale, and fascinating relationships. At the end of the day, I don’t get the gross mismanagement that got everything to this point? I would say how does this happen but it does, right? This is like a double episode of Dateline or 20/20 or a made for TV movie waiting to happen, right?

People make your calls. Whether to Tower executives, board members, people they know, politicians….MAKE the calls. Don’t just vent on social media or think signing a petition is going to sway Tower. (Or elected officials in lofty places – sarcasm- like Harrisburg.)

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