Tower Health recently announced a reduction in workforce and the closure or consolidation of certain services. Despite the changes, the health system does not expect the community’s overall access to health care to decrease.
“Tower Health took this action to ensure the system can continue to provide comprehensive, high-quality health care to the community for months and years ahead,” the system said in a statement through Jessica Bezler, public relations manager. “The community benefits when its local health care system operates in a clinically and financially responsible manner.”
Tower cited the severe financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the system and its hospitals as the reason for the decision to reduce the workforce and close or consolidate some services. The impact required the health system to restructure many of its services to ensure its ability to serve the community today and in the future.
“Tower Health excelled in caring for the community during the height of the pandemic and continues to do so today,” Tower Health said. “At the same time, the virus has had a devastating financial impact on the system.”
In the release, Tower Health announced the closure of the Pottstown Hospital Maternity Unit and Tower Health Medical Group Reading Birth Center in Kenhorst. The health system said the decision was difficult and made with careful consideration.
“We understand the disappointment of those who support both facilities and who have positive memories of delivering their children there,” the health system said. “Reading Hospital’s labor and delivery unit will continue to welcome midwives and doulas, just as it does now in its role as a backup for the birth center.”
According to Tower Health, the maternity unit at Pottstown Hospital has seen a decline in deliveries. The annual number of deliveries has decreased by two thirds from 10 years ago and the unit averages just over one delivery a day. The system said the unit would also require millions of dollars in upgrades.
Both facilities will continue to deliver babies until mid-August.
The health system said it plans to work with its physicians to facilitate care at other area hospitals for patients expected to deliver near, on or after the closure date of Aug. 14. Labor and delivery services will continue to be offered at Reading Hospital and Phoenixville Hospital.
The health system will also close or consolidate certain clinical services, including select behavioral health services at Reading Hospital, as well as the Reading Hospital occupational medicine and sports medicine programs, and two physician practices, Coventry Foot & Ankle and Premier GYN Limerick.
“The programs impacted by this restructuring were generally smaller with low patient volumes, produced financial losses that are no longer sustainable and require significant capital investments,” Tower Health said. “Closing a service or program is always a difficult decision to make, but we are able to connect impacted patients with alternate providers. While we recognize that individual patients may be impacted in the short term, the community’s overall access to care has not been diminished.”
The workforce reduction included positions in the executive, management, clinical and support areas. About 10% of the positions were unfilled.
According to Tower Health, the changes were necessary to best allocate the health system’s valuable resources during a constantly changing situation.
“These decisions were extremely difficult, but it is Tower Health’s responsibility to ensure we can continue to meet the the health care needs of patients and the communities we serve today and in the future,” Tower Health said. “We remain fully prepared to meet the needs of the community today and are working diligently to strengthen our system for the challenges ahead.”