PHILADELPHIA - A Philadelphia councilmember is calling on the city to use all available means to secure Hahnemann Hospital to treat coronavirus patients.
"Joel Freedman does not have the right to block and make money off an important emergency medical center in the midst of a global health crisis," said Philadelphia City Councilmember at Large Helen Gym.
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She said the owner Joel Freedman is trying to sell the hospital to the city for an outrageous amount of money and accusing him of trying to profit off of the coronavirus pandemic.
"Which I think is absolutely appalling and disgusts most people in Philadelphia," she also said. In a tweet, Gym proposed the city reclaim Hahnemann through eminent domain.
"We need to take some serious steps about reclaiming Hahnemann Hospital as a public asset and ensuring that the city is prepared to meet the weeks ahead with the appropriate number of beds and with the appropriate number of treatment centers so we can take care of our people and save lives," said Gym.
Officials said during a news conference Tuesday that Freedman is offering to sell the building or rent it for a high cost and that isn't going to happen.
"We clearly aren't in a position to purchase the building. They've come back with a year-long lease which we have to also turn down. They've brought it down to a six month lease which is a little more reasonable although the rental price is not," said City Managing Director Brian Abernathy.
Gym says the city will not be ripped off.
"We are struggling to get PPE equipment, essential masks, ventilators and we've got to buy beds. We are looking at businesses that are going under and trying to help people who’ve lost their income," she said.
"We cannot allow unconscionable greed to get in the way of saving lives," Gym added. "Eminent domain this property."
Freedman said Tuesday night that he is working with the city and has offered to lease the medical facility to the City of Philadelphia at substantially below market cost so it can be used by the city in the event that there is a surge of COVID-19 patients.
“We are working with the City of Philadelphia to provide a major quarantine center to cope with community members affected by the COVID-19 virus,” said Joel Freedman, who purchased the now closed hospital and owns it through his company Broad Street Healthcare Properties. “We will continue to work with the City in an attempt to find a reasonable solution.”
He added, "Our team immediately responded to the City’s interest in the Hahnemann and has been engaged in discussions with them for several days. Further, we have continually asked the City to make us an offer for the facility. We asked the City whether they desired to buy or lease the hospital, and after days of waiting for a reply, we took the initiative and submitted a term sheet. We offered to lease the facility to the city for six months or a year, whatever they think is necessary. We need the City to work with us for everyone to be successful. I believe everyone has the right purpose at heart. The ball is in the City’s court to tell us what it needs and is willing to do.”
Hahnemann University Hospital closed Sept. 6, 2019, due to "continuing, unsustainable financial losses."
There are currently at least 851 cases of the novel coronavirus in Pennsylvania, according to state health officials. Seven deaths have been reported.
City officials report 252 COVID-19 cases within Philadelphia. At least 23 patients are hospitalized, and 25 patients are healthcare workers.
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