Richard Donze, D.O., MPH
Chester County Hospital joined Penn Medicine three years ago.
How has the relationship affected the hospital and its medical staff?
Richard Donze, D.O., MPH, the hospital’s CMO and Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs for nearly 20 years, said that despite some initial general apprehension from CCH’s heavily independent medical staff about potential competition, the relationship has been largely positive for both patients and physicians.
“Although we can provide many high-quality and medically sophisticated services with our current staff and facility, as part of Penn Medicine, we are able to bring academic medical center expertise from Philadelphia right into our community,” he said. “In addition, we can facilitate access to the care that can only be provided downtown.
“Being part of Penn also has enhanced our ability to recruit new physicians to our market and allowed us to add some telemedicine capabilities.”
CCH’s relationship with Penn dates to the mid-1990s. The affiliation began in radiation, radiation oncology and medical oncology, and later expanded to include maternal-fetal medicine. (CCH became part of Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center in 2015.)
When CCH began the search for a partner in 2012, the existing UPHS affiliation – along with Penn’s preeminence and location -- made for a logical and relatively straightforward decision, said Dr. Donze, a former family physician who now practices occupational medicine.
About Chester County Hospital
Chester County Hospital opened in 1892, in a private home. Pierre S. duPont was so grateful for the care his chauffeur/valet received at the hospital that he donated enough money for a new building, with a cornerstone laid in 1924. duPont, a world traveler, wanted the new building modeled after the Palazzo Pitti in Florence, Italy.
Some of those design elements have been carried over into a series of renovations and expansions that began in the 1960s, including the most recent, a four-story tower that enabled the hospital to provide all private rooms.
Today CCH has 245 beds and a medical staff of about 500 physicians and advanced practice providers. An operating room expansion is planned in the next two to three years.
“The medical marketplace in Southeastern Pennsylvania has obviously been consolidating over the past several years for many well-known reasons,” he said. “It was probably inevitable that we would become part of another health system at some point.”
Many of CCH’s medical staff members -- about 70 percent of whom are in private practice, including cardiology, general surgery and other key specialties – initially had some questions about how the relationship might affect them, Dr. Donze said.
“We want our local independent medical staff to grow and thrive,” he said, “so we’ve been thoughtful and selective” when deciding whether to approach certain Penn specialists about considering practice locations in Chester County.
Generally that has only happened when there was a need to add services not previously available, such as the Penn faculty neurosurgery and thoracic surgery outpatient practices in West Chester. These specialists still perform surgeries in Philadelphia, but pre-op and post-op care stay in the community.
“I think our independent physicians can see that we’re working hard to support their success,” Dr. Donze said.
“We were happy when LG Health became part of the Penn system,” he added. “We look forward to working together with our new partners and leveraging our strengths as community health systems.”