Democratic lawmakers tour Chestnut Hill Hospital, talk pandemic response

Hearing focused on past and future of public health preparedness

PHILADELPHIA, JULY 25 – The House Democratic Policy Committee toured the Chestnut Hill Hospital in Philadelphia and learned about their pandemic response during a hearing Monday afternoon. The hearing, hosted by Rep. Stephen Kinsey (D-Philadelphia), focused on Chestnut Hill’s initial response to COVID-19 and what needs to be done in the future to prepare for any future pandemics.

“It’s important to take a look at the effects COVID-19 had on our hospitals and what can be done in the future to be better prepared for the next pandemic. The folks at Chestnut Hill gave us great insight into what worked and what didn’t, and what hospitals like theirs need from us in Harrisburg to improve pandemic response,” said Kinsey.

Chestnut Hill is a community hospital, which has limited services compared to those like a trauma center that are found at larger systems. Hospital officials noted the lack of personal protective equipment and the frustrating procurement process as early barriers to an effective response. They said hospitals are looking at the government to help them be better prepared and to take testing and vaccination burdens away from them.

Chestnut Hill officials also noted their staff is facing an uptick in violence and have no funding available to increase security. They also explained the fundamental unfairness of being a community-based provider that operates at much smaller margins, putting them at a disadvantage with insurance companies and a higher risk of being sold. They said anything lawmakers can do in Harrisburg to increase funding would be a tremendous help.

Lawmakers also heard from nursing staff at Chestnut Hill and what they think can be done to increase public health preparedness in hospitals across the state. Nurses said the most helpful policy change would be a trigger during emergencies to increase the scope of practice for nurses and EMTs to help address shortages.

“This was a much-needed hearing to review the impacts of the pandemic and plan for improvement. We heard from those who battled the pandemic firsthand, and now we know what we need to do in Harrisburg,” said Policy Chairman Ryan Bizzarro (D-Erie). “I thank the staff at Chestnut Hill for providing this important input and look forward to working with our colleagues in Harrisburg to implement the changes that are needed.”

Photos from today’s hearing can be found here.

Information about this hearing and other House Democratic Policy Committee hearings can be found at