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Health Care New Castle County News

ChristianaCare to acquire Jennersville Hospital

Katie Tabeling

ChristianaCare, the state’s largest hospital system, has announced it will acquire yet another Pennsylvania hospital. It will be the third acquisition in that state in the last two years. | PHOTO COURTESY CHRISTIANACARE

WILMINGTON — Continuing its aggressive expansion efforts in southern Pennsylvania, ChristianaCare announced Wednesday it would acquire the Jennersville Hospital from Tower Health.

ChristianaCare signed an agreement with Tower Health to buy the hospital, the Tower Health’s interest in two office buildings as well as a 24-acre parcel of land. Terms of the acquisition were not immediately disclosed, although ChristianaCare officials expect the deal to close within 30 to 60 days.

The Jennersville campus, which was closed at the end of December 2021, would be renamed ChristianaCare West Grove Campus. There is no timeline for when it will be reopened at this moment, according to ChristianaCare officials.

“We recognize the closing of [this] hospital represented a loss of access to important health care services in the surrounding community,” ChristianaCare CEO and President Janice Nevin said in a statement.“ChristianaCare already serves many members of the Southern Chester County community in our hospitals and practices. We look forward to working with community leaders, listening and evaluating needs, and re-establishing the right mix of health care services at this location.”

ChristianaCare is not the first prospective buyer for the Jennersville Hospital. Tower Hill acquired the campus back in 2017 in a dramatic expansion plan in a bid to avoid being acquired by a southeastern competitor, according to reports from the Philadelphia Inquirer. At the time, Tower Health reported it served 2.5 million patients in the area.

Tower Health, previously known as Reading Health System, paid roughly $400 million in a deal for five hospitals, including the Jennersville Hospital, according to the Inquirer. But as time passed, the health care system struggled to maintain the financial solvability of its facilities and soon put a request for bids for sale.

Canyon Atlantic Partners of Austin, Texas, stepped up and entered into a preliminary deal with Tower Health to buy the Jennersville and Brandywine hospitals in November 2021 for $16.5 million. But Tower Health later backed out of the deal, citing that the firm had “not demonstrated the necessary regulatory and operational preparedness, nor validated its financial ability, to complete this transaction and operate these hospitals.”

Canyon Atlantic later then took the matter to court. But when it did not pay the required $1 million bond on the matter, the firm later withdrew its complaint from the Chester County Court of Common Pleas in March.

Meanwhile, ChristianaCare has proven to be an aggressive agent in health care expansion in the past year. After acquiring the former Union Hospital in nearby Elkton, Md., ChristianaCare was relatively quiet in terms of expanding beyond its footprint, until it announced last year it entered a tentative agreement to acquire four hospitals in the Crozer Health system.

In addition, ChristianaCare has plans to open its first primary care office in Rehoboth Beach and Milford, as well as opening a spinal surgery center in Wilmington. Earlier this year, the health care system announced it would acquire two Tower Health primary care offices in Jennersville and West Grove.

At this time, ChristianaCare officials are in the early stages of planning services at the Jennersville campus.

“We are exploring what is possible,” ChristianaCare Chief Strategy Officer Jennifer Schwartz said. “We know that the loss of the emergency services because of the closing of Jennersville Hospital is a significant concern of the community, and that’s definitely something that we’re discussing. Our priority right now is to talk with community leaders and listen to the community, so that we can develop a plan that meets their needs.”

ChristianaCare cannot comment on whether it will relocate existing employees or start recruiting from the Pennsylvania region at this point, according to a spokesman.

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