As residents of Pottstown and Phoenixville know first hand, things change when Community Health Systems (CHS) buys your local hospital. CHS owns Pottstown Memorial Medical Center and Phoenixville Hospital.
CHS is continuing to expand their presence in Pennsylvania with the purchase of three hospitals in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Metropolitan Area. CHS, who already owns Wyoming Valley Health Care System since 2009, has entered into an agreement with Mercy Health Partners to purchase Mercy Hospital in Scranton, Mercy Tyler Hospital in Tunkhannock and Mercy Special Care Hospital in Nanticoke. Wilkes-Barre General Hospital is part of Wyoming Valley Health Care System and already owned by CHS.
The standard CHS rhetoric has followed: hire all employees in good standing at the time of the sale (same position, pay and seniority), CHS promised to invest $68 million in the first five years, set up a community foundation and donate $2 million, maintain the status quo for five years and treat employees with dignity and respect.
All I can say is, based on what happened in Pottstown, things will change. We narrowly averted a strike because employees were disgruntled, claimed to be overworked and salary/benefits changes were proposed. CHS does invest in hospital infrastructure, equipment and recruit physicians as promised.