Finding a new home: Allied Health students adjust to closure of Brandywine Hospital

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By Evan Lu, News Editor The Allied Health program just lost its home.  On Dec. 9, Pennsylvania healthcare provider Tower Health announced its decision to close Jennersville Hospital and Brandywine Hospital. The decision came after Texas-based company Canyon Hills, previously slated to purchase the two hospitals, revealed that it was unable to effectively take over...

By Evan Lu, News Editor

The Allied Health program just lost its home. 

On Dec. 9, Pennsylvania healthcare provider Tower Health announced its decision to close Jennersville Hospital and Brandywine Hospital. The decision came after Texas-based company Canyon Hills, previously slated to purchase the two hospitals, revealed that it was unable to effectively take over the facilities. Prior to the closures, the Chester County Technical College High School (TCHS) hosted the community health pathway of its Allied Health program at Brandywine Hospital. The community-based program enables students interested in medicine to explore health issues through hands-on experiences that have a positive impact in the community. In October 2021, TCHS Brandywine assistant principal Dave Purdy first heard rumors that the hospital was slated to close.

“We had heard about Jennersville shutting down, but then we heard that everything at Brandywine was fine. We had some preliminary discussions on how to best manage what we would do if these hospitals shut down and how to find opportunities for students,” Purdy said. 

In mid-December, Purdy and his team were suddenly told to move all operations out of Brandywine Hospital by the end of the year. While it is officially slated to close on Jan. 31, the Allied Health students were transferred before Christmas to a new classroom at the TCHS campus. While there was little disruption to the program’s coursework aspects, one of its defining features and biggest attractions for students is clinicals, or days when students shadow doctors and nurses in the hospital. Students are guided by medical professionals and observe real-world operations in the operating and emergency rooms.  

“It’s the experience of just being there, of watching (doctors) do what they do and learning how fast they do everything; it’s very, very quick, and they have to think on the spot. I’m like, ‘Wow, they are very fast and very intelligent – I’m going to have to get to that level if I want to do this,” said senior and Brandywine Allied Health student Ragull Arumugam. “Obviously, now we don’t have clinicals at Brandywine Hospital, so we’re trying to get clinicals elsewhere, like Chester County Hospital or outside of nursing homes. If it can’t be another hospital, then hopefully it can be a clinical site or something else.” 

While students continue the search for new clinicals, most do not harbor resentment toward the situation. Senior Chris Ramones, whose daily commute was shortened by the change, is generally indifferent to the new setup. 

“Everybody seemed to be okay with it, and it worked out pretty well. I didn’t really care as much, but at least we’re trying to have new clinicals, which I’m sure aren’t going to go away,” Ramones said. “I kind of now feel bad for a lot of the people who work there, who are losing their jobs.” 

Arumugam agrees; similarly;, he understands that beyond the changes to the Allied Health program, the shutdown of Brandywine Hospital holds greater significance to the surrounding community. 

“For us, it’s not the end of the world. We just have to move one and make do with whatever we have. Obviously, it sucks even more for the community. It’s a very small community with a lot of old people, so (Brandywine) was a very pivotal hospital. It’s not the same as here, where there’s a rich community and there are a lot of hospitals and resources,” Arumugam said. 

Arumugam recalls fond memories of the clinical experiences, especially the close-up surgeries where the doctors would interact personally with students. While sad that a monumental time at Brandywine is coming to an end, Arumugam views the change as a chance to practice being flexible. 

“I really enjoyed my time (at Brandywine). I love the staff there – I had really great experiences and they were all super nice to me,” Arumugam said. “It was really devastating at first, but this just shows what happens in real life and teaches us a little bit of resiliency. This is a learning opportunity for us. This is a pretty big setback, but we ought to bounce back.”


Evan Lu can be reached at [email protected]

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