Drexel University, Tower Health Announce Community Support for St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children

Exterior of St. Chris Hospital for Children
Exterior of St. Christopher's Hospital for Children.

In a testament to the importance of St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children as a center of clinical care, medical training, and research, a number of Philadelphia’s most prominent health care and higher education organizations will provide substantial financial support to help ensure that the hospital remains an essential community asset into the future.

Some of the region’s leading institutions—including the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Thomas Jefferson University and Einstein Healthcare Network (now part of Jefferson Health), Temple Health, and Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine—and private donors will provide more than $50 million in financial support to St. Christopher’s over the next two years. In addition, Independence Health Group has been supportive of this coalition of health systems and educational institutions.

This unprecedented show of community support will provide short-term financial stability as St. Christopher’s works to solidify other funding support for a hospital that provides vital services to an underserved community facing significant, longstanding obstacles to accessing quality health care.

“I am tremendously grateful to our local health care organizations and universities for coming together in support of St. Christopher’s Hospital,” said John Fry, president of Drexel University, which co-owns the hospital with Tower Health. “Their commitment will help to secure the future of this great hospital that is a unique civic treasure, an invaluable asset for medical education, and above all, a mission-driven institution that delivers outstanding pediatric care to families in North Philadelphia and across the region. For almost 150 years, St. Christopher’s has been making a difference in the lives of children and families in need, and this support will help that legacy continue.”

“We’re extremely grateful for this support from so many of the region’s health care leaders,” said Sue Perrotty, president and CEO of Tower Health. “St. Christopher’s is irreplaceable not only to the patients and community it serves, but also as part of Philadelphia’s role as a center of medical education and research, with more than 130 residents and fellows, 360 visiting residents from other schools, and over 500 other students in allied health fields. The hospital has been at the forefront of working for health care equity for many years. It provides high-quality care not only to patients and families across the region, but to communities that have traditionally been underserved.”

“Over the past two-and-a-half years, we have focused on advancing the quality of our care and our facilities, while also fixing the most serious financial issues facing the hospital,” said St. Christopher’s president and CEO Don Mueller. “While we have made significant financial improvement, we have more work to do. This funding will provide the support we need as we work to create a sustainable long-term future for St. Christopher’s. We’ll be able to focus on further enhancing our current programs and developing new ones, to better address the substantial needs of our patients and their families.”

In addition, an anonymous donor has provided $1.5 million to establish a professional fundraising team for the hospital, which will be supported by the Drexel Institutional Advancement team. Additional efforts to grow private philanthropic support for St. Christopher’s are also well underway. 

Drexel University and Tower Health will continue as co-owners of the hospital and its physician practice group. Tower Health will continue to provide administrative and operational services, while a number of management responsibilities will shift to St. Christopher’s independent control.

In 2019, Drexel and Tower stepped in to purchase St. Christopher’s out of bankruptcy and rescue it from potential closure. “The commitment and support of these two institutions is what saved St. Christopher’s,” said Mueller. “We’ve come a long way in a short period, and this community support is the latest sign of even more positive things to come.”

“I can’t say enough about the amazing work by our physicians, medical technicians, nurses, other health care professionals, and staff to contribute to the turnaround,” said Mueller. “A lot of really great people remained committed through both the ownership transition and the pandemic, demonstrating their dedication to St. Christopher’s mission of providing high-quality healthcare services to all children.”

Mueller said that St. Christopher’s future will be based on a combination of four “pillars:” effective management of resources; funding support from federal, state and city governments; philanthropy; and fair reimbursement for the cost of providing services to patients insured by Medicaid.

Medicaid reimburses hospitals less than the cost of care. With 82 percent of its patients covered by Medicaid, St. Christopher’s has the highest Medicaid percentage of any pediatric academic medical center in the United States.

“St. Christopher’s cannot survive just on Medicaid,” said Mueller. “This new approach for the hospital—combining the support of leading health care organizations and government along with philanthropy—is our best chance to ensure that children and families who need great care will continue to get it.”