Temple considering selling Jeanes, Fox Chase

Temple University is exploring selling off its two hospitals in Northeast Philadelphia, Jeanes Hospital and Fox Chase Cancer Center, due to financial difficulties.

Possible sale: On Aug. 8, Temple University hired a financial advising firm to look into selling Jeanes Hospital (pictured) and Fox Chase Cancer Center. Fox Chase became affiliated with Temple in 2012, and Jeanes since 1996. TIMES FILE PHOTO

Temple University is considering selling Jeanes Hospital and Fox Chase Cancer Center amid financial difficulties for the school’s health system.

The decision to look into selling the hospitals was made public in June in a letter co-authored by Temple University President Richard M. Englert and Larry R. Kaiser, president and CEO of the university’s health system. Since then, Temple has hired a financial advising firm to examine the possible sale of the two hospitals.

Englert most recently addressed the topic during his “State of the University” speech Sept. 20.

“Currently, Temple Health again faces significant financial challenges,” he said. “These challenges are primarily due to the fact that Temple Hospital is proportionally the largest provider of healthcare to Medicaid patients.”

In the June letter, Englert and Kaiser announced that the university’s Board of Trustees approved the hiring of a firm to look at the potential sale of Jeanes and Fox Chase.

“To be clear, no final decision has been made regarding these two facilities,” the letter states.

On Aug. 8, the university hired Juniper Advisory to look into selling one or both of the medical facilities.

In 2016, Juniper was involved in the merger of Aria Health and Jefferson, which saw Aria’s campuses in Torresdale and Frankford join the Jefferson system.

A Temple University spokesperson declined to provide additional information on the possible sale of Jeanes and Fox Chase. Juniper could not be reached for comment.

Professor Mark V. Pauly, an expert in healthcare management at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, said he’s not surprised Temple is looking to offload the hospitals.

“Temple’s bleeding money anyway,” he said. “They’re trying to sell some of the jewelry.”

Last year, Temple Health provided $70 million in charity care, according to Englert, and many of the university’s patients are low-income or uninsured.

Pauly said neighborhood hospitals like Jeanes have been struggling to survive in Philadelphia. That’s because many patients prefer to go downtown to one of the city’s big hospitals to get major operations or be treated for severe conditions, he said.

If Jeanes is sold, it could continue to be operated as a hospital, or could be converted into a nursing home, outpatient medical center or used for a different non-health-related purpose.

Pauly said he doesn’t see Jeanes operating as a neighborhood hospital far into the future even if it were to be taken over by a hospital chain like Jefferson.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if it only lasted three or four years that way,” he said.

The story’s different for Fox Chase, a specialized cancer treatment and research facility designated by the National Cancer Institute.

“It seems like that’s a good business to be in,” Pauly said. “My suspicion is that they’re expecting to get a pretty good price for that one.”

Fox Chase became affiliated with Temple in 2012, while Jeanes has been part of the university’s health system since 1996 . ••

Jack Tomczuk can be reached at jtomczuk@newspapermediagroup.com