Healthcare workers within the system told WHYY News that these service shutdowns will cause real damage to the people of Delco.
Peggy Malone, president of the Crozer-Chester Nurses Association, told WHYY News that hospital ownership has been far from transparent amid the Wilmington-based ChristianaCare Health System currently attempting to purchase Crozer from Prospect.
However, Malone said that since that has started, hospital management has been asking the county and the municipalities for more money even though they “were given large sums of money during COVID.”
“[Prospect is] cutting services saying that there is no money, yet, we want to know, where was this money spent? Because, what we know is that this money has been given back to their investors. And now they have taken so much money from our system, that they’re ready to sell us and leave us with nothing,” Malone said.
With limited supplies and a shrinking staff, Malone is upset that cuts keep being made given how vital the services are. She said that she and her fellow nurses want to do what’s right by their patients.
“How is that good for this community? Coming out of the pandemic, the rates of suicide and overdose and substance abuse, depression, and anxiety are all at record high levels. Now is not the time to take the services from this community,” Malone said.
She emphasized that the rally was a chance for the public to hear from healthcare workers across the various units who are seeing the impact of the cuts firsthand.
‘This is going to devastate the whole entire community’
The health professionals told WHYY News in multiple interviews that their patients are in jeopardy.
Yahaira Turner previously worked in the First Steps Treatment Center, the inpatient drug and alcohol unit at Crozer-Chester Medical Center. That was shuttered in January. Now, she works as a social worker at the hospital.
“We need the services. I am working currently in the [emergency department] And I see how these patients are in need of the services…the mental health crisis is going to get worse. We also need drug and alcohol [treatment services] There for people who are detoxing, people who are scared, or just struggling with just saying, ‘I need help,’ and they can’t even get access to that,” Turner said.
For many people facing drug or alcohol addiction in the eastern portion of Delco, the Crozer-Chester Medical Center is quite literally the starting point for recovery.
However, with Crozer set to close the Inpatient Acute Substance Abuse and Addition Unit on June 11 and its Crisis Center on June 19, the starting point becomes blurry.
And with Crozer planning to shutter all mental health and substance use treatment outpatient services at the Community Campus in Chester, the starting point for recovery in Delco all but disappears.
Amanda Heiter is a nurse that previously worked in First Steps but transferred to a different unit just before it closed. She currently works in the outpatient recovery unit.
“It’s needed. People are going to die,” Heiter said. “If they close the services, Delaware County has no other really good programs like this at all for methadone on this side of Delaware County. This is going to devastate the entire entire community … We had so many people clean and sober for years relapse during this pandemic. We need this service. They can’t shut this down.”
Lakeya Caulk is also a nurse on the campus that works with the recovering community.
“Our patients really matter. They’re the ones who are hurting. Recovery really matters. We are a small community and mental health is really serious in this area. Please save our patients,” Caulk said.
Susan Rubinstein doesn’t work within the Crozer Health system, however, she does have a family member currently receiving treatment at the Community Campus.
“We just found out last week that they’re planning on closing that down in the middle of June. And there goes the weekly therapy and medication management, which in our case, is helping our family member work part time and she’s been getting services for a very, very long time,” Rubinstein told WHYY News.
Her family has been “scrambling” to find alternative care.
“We just literally don’t know what to do,” she said. “The other thing is, I’m very concerned about a lot of the patients over in the mental health facilities here who may not be aware of going on or may not have family as caregivers. We know what’s going on, so we can be proactive, but there are probably a lot of people who don’t or don’t have the wherewithal to do something and to find other care and this is going to throw the entire county into chaos .”