Philadelphia’s Mayor Jim Kenney has accused a closed hospital owner of trying to make a profit from a deal toopen during the coronavirus pandemic, while city council member Helen Gym has called on government officials to simply confiscate the property, WHY reported on Tuesday.
Hospitals across Philadelphia could become overwhelmed if the virus and the disease it causes, Covid-19, spreads in the entire country. According to WHY, city officials are trying to reopen Hahnemann University Hospital with 496 beds bought in 2018 through Joel Freedman, CEO of Philadelphia Academic Health System, dropped out the following year, and turn it into an overflow facility. They say Freedman, a private equity backed investment banker whose main interest in the property been possible selling his land to developers, doesn’t make it easy.
Negotiations went badly, says city director Brian Abernathy NBC Philadelphia that Freedman first tried to get the city to buy the shuttered hospital at a reasonable market value, then demanded that Philadelphia sign a lease of at least six months for $ 70 per bed per night. That would be just over a million a month, according to WHY.
“Mr. Freedman has been difficult to work with when he was the owner of the hospital, and he is still difficult to work with as the owner of the shuttered hospital,” Abernathy told WHY. “… I think he is looking at how to turn an asset that does not generate income into an asset that does generate income, and does not really think about the consequences for public health. I think he sees this as a business transaction rather than offering an imminent and important help to the city and our residents. “
“We have the owner of the Hahnemann Hospital that is pushing up monthly prices. People will take advantage of this and try to make money from it, and I think it’s sad again, ‘Mayor Kenney told reporters. “This is probably the biggest health crisis of our generation, and they have to act on it.”
Councilor Gym tweeted that “unscrupulous greed” should not interfere with the response to Covid-19 on Tuesday afternoon, saying that the city should “Eminent domain this property.” While that could entangle Philadelphia in a lengthy lawsuit and require it to pay a fair market value, Abernathy said the city cannot afford it, WHY noted that Governor Tom Wolf has the power to “claim or use private, public or quasi-public property” under a statewide emergency declaration.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirerit would be difficult to reopen the Hahnemann building almost all furniture and equipment inside were auctioned in January this year. However, it can still be used to tackle the overflow of other institutions that cannot keep up with the expected increase in patients, which would require a new license. Reopening Hahnemann as a quarantine site for infected persons without other options is also a possibility that would allow this looser regulatory restrictions.
In a statement to the investigator, Freedhusband spokesman Sam Singer claimed their $ 70 a night offer is “a huge, greatly reduced rate compared to other known comparable situations,” such as a state lease in California with the owners of an empty 366 bed Hospital in Los Angeles for $ 2.6 million a month. He added that Freedman “wants to help the city and the community.”