A private-equity exec is asking for $31,500 a day to reopen a shuttered hospital for coronavirus patients. The city’s mayor says he doesn’t ‘have the time’ to keep negotiating.

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The now-shuttered Hahnemann University Hospital pictured in October 2018. Google Streetview
  • Philadelphia city officials have given up trying to reopen a shuttered private hospital for coronavirus patients because its asking price is too expensive.
  • Hahnemann University Hospital has been asking for up to $US31,500 a day to reopen if it were to be used at full capacity to help the city whether its coronavirus crisis, CNBC reported.
  • Hospital owner Joel Freedman, a private-equity executive, said his offer was already “substantially below market cost.”
  • Mayor Jim Kenney of Philadelphia said Thursday: “In the midst of a public health crisis, with the numbers of positive cases increasing daily, we simply do not have the time to continue in a lengthy negotiation.”
  • City managing director Brian Abernathy also criticised Freedman for looking for a “business transaction” in a time of emergency, according to CNBC.
  • A spokesperson for Freedman’s company told Business Insider the criticisms “do not reflect the reality of the situation” and added that they “do not deter us from continuing to make our facility available.”
  • Pennsylvania is the 10th worst-affected state in the US so far, with 1,813 reported cases and 18 deaths from the coronavirus as of Friday, according to The Guardian.
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A shuttered private hospital in Philadelphia has been asking for up to $US31,500 a day to reopen to accommodate the city’s coronavirus patients, and talks have reached such a deadlock that the city’s mayor said officials “simply do not have the time” to continue negotiating.

City officials have been trying to lease Hahnemann University Hospital for coronavirus patients, but its owner – private-equity executive Joel Freedman – has been asking for up to $US31,500 a day in fees, CNBC reported, citing city managing director Brian Abernathy. The hospital officially shut in September 2019.

Mayor Jim Kenney of Philadelphia told a Thursday press conference: “In the midst of a public health crisis, with the numbers of positive cases increasing daily, we simply do not have the time to continue in a lengthy negotiation,” according NBC Philadelphia.

“We are done, we are moving on,” he also said, according to Philadelphia Business Journal.

The city has been searching for new medical facilities in anticipation of a growth in coronavirus cases. The state of Pennsylvania is the 10th worst-affected in the US so far, with 1,813 reported cases and 18 deaths from the coronavirus as of Friday, according to The Guardian.

On Thursday, the US surpassed China to become the world’s worst-affected country in terms of infection toll.

Jim kenney philadelphia
Mayor Jim Kenney of Philadelphia giving a briefing on the coronavirus crisis on March 24, 2020. PBS News Hour/YouTube

A spokesperson for Freedman’s company, Broad Street Healthcare Properties, which owns the hospital, told Business Insider that the company “remains open and willing to assist the City of Philadelphia and the State of Pennsylvania should the city or the State need the hospital and its facilities.”

Freedman first offered to sell the hospital building at market cost, which the city could not afford, according to CNBC.

There have been differing reports about the total cost of Freedman’s offer.

On Tuesday, Freedman offered the hospital, which it says has room for 496 beds, to lease on the basis of “a per bed amount of approximately $US27 plus operating costs,” according to a press release Broad Street Healthcare Properties.

According to the statement, this fee was “substantially below market cost,” and “far below the comparable situation in downtown Los Angeles where shuttered St. Vincent Hospital is being rented at $US233 per day per bed plus operating costs by the State of California for COVID-19 patients.”

According to Philadelphia Business Journal, operating costs would be $US33 per bed, which would bring the total to $US60 per bed per day. Meanwhile, CNBC reported that the room had been set at $US70 a night, citing a spokesperson.

Broad Street Healthcare Properties has not responded to Business Insider’s request for clarification on the hospital costs.

Hahnemann University Hospital
Hahnemann University Hospital in October 2018. Google Streetview

‘He is looking at this as a business transaction’

Abernathy said Freedman was not taking into account the coronavirus emergency in his offer.

“He is looking at this as a business transaction rather than providing an imminent and important need for our city and our residents,” Abernathy told CNBC.

Freedman bought Hahnemann University Hospital in early 2018, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. However, business at the hospital was troubled and in June 2019, its parent company filed for bankruptcy. The hospital eventually closed in September that year.

“The owner, Mr. Freedman, was difficult to work with at times when he was the owner of the hospital, and he is still difficult to work with as the owner of the shuttered hospital,” added Abernathy, according to CNBC.

In response to those remarks, a spokesperson for Broad Street Healthcare Properties told Business Insider: “The criticisms of Mr. Freedman and Broad Street by elected officials make for good headlines, but do not reflect the reality of the situation. Nor do not reflect the cooperation and helpfulness Broad Street has offered to the city and community.

“These statements by city leaders do not deter us from continuing to make our facility available should the city or the state determine it wants to discuss using it during this health pandemic.”