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Delaware County Memorial Hospital emergency department to close, become behavioral health hospital

Delaware County Memorial Hospital closing its ER to open behavioral health hospital
Delaware County Memorial Hospital closing its ER to open behavioral health hospital 02:24

DREXEL HILL, Pa. (CBS) -- Major changes are coming to Delaware County Memorial Hospital. Mental health services are being added, but the emergency department is shutting down. 

The sign here at Delaware County Memorial Hospital says the emergency department is open to serve you, but that won't be the case for much longer. 

Eyewitness News spoke with one nurse who says she is devastated by the change. 

"It's a very dark day for the community," nurse Angela Napolitano said. 

She has been a nurse at the emergency department for 41 years. 

On Wednesday, she and other staff members found out the hospital's parent company, Prospect Medical Holdings is shutting the emergency department down. 

"It's heartbreaking because my whole life has been there," Napolitano said, "The facilities around us will not be able to absorb the patients that we see."

For patients, it means they may have to travel farther away to seek care. Napolitano says she'll now have to transfer to Crozer Chester Medical Center in Upland and work a different shift. 

She believes as many as 200 other employees will be impacted. 

"It's not just nurses, it's the housekeepers, it's the dieticians, it's the lab, it's the respiratory therapists, it's the CAT scan, it's the X-ray techs, it's everyone," Napolitano said.

Renovations will soon be underway for the building to turn into a behavioral health inpatient hospital with more than 100 beds. 

There will be a crisis care unit, psychiatric care, detox and rehabilitation.

State Rep. Mike Zabel, whose district includes Upper Darby, has mixed feelings about the changes. 

"It's a bit of a mixed bag in terms of news. It's great news that we're going to have more beds for behavioral health. That is something the county has needed for a long time and there's certainly a need in that area for drug and alcohol services and treatment as well, but losing the emergency department is an area of significant concern," Zabel said. 

Nurses were told the emergency department would close on Nov. 26.

The behavioral health hospital is anticipated to open by spring of 2023. 

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