Opinion: Two points of view on historical Marsden House

Posted 8/31/23

A letter from Chestnut Hill Hospital.

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Opinion: Two points of view on historical Marsden House


I read with interest Mr. Beck’s article in last week’s Chestnut Hill Local involving Chestnut Hill Hospital and the Chestnut Hill Conservancy. As a member of the community for the past 40-plus years, the Chief Medical Officer of the hospital and someone who values and appreciates the beauty and aesthetics of the community, I feel compelled to weigh in on the issue. 

One of the service lines that Chestnut Hill Hospital is known for is women’s Health. From the hospital’s standpoint, our current footprint with regard to women’s health does not allow us to expand in order to bring the necessary resources to bear in order to remain competitive in the Philadelphia market. Expansion is key as we continually look to raise the bar to improve and enhance the quality of life for our patients. 

At the same time, it is important for us to be good partners in all that we do and be sensitive to the needs and desires of this beautiful hamlet, while in this case maintaining the significant architectural history of the community. 

Being good partners was never more evident than with our 2012 expansion of our Emergency Room, Operating Room and Intensive Care Unit – for which we held community forums to glean concerns prior to the start of the project. We met and we listened. And we will do the same with this project when we are ready. 

That balance of providing the best care that we can bring to the community with regard to advanced clinical care and new technology in conjunction with working alongside our community partners benefits all parties and makes us a stronger community. The desires of both the hospital and the Conservancy need not be mutually exclusive. 

The attribute that I admire most about this community is the passion that permeates all aspects of Chestnut Hill. It is this passion that makes Chestnut Hill special and a wonderful environment to live, work and play. Let us remember the words of Coretta Scott King, who said “The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.” 

It is in that spirit that I propose a solution in which the hospital will formally agree to not make any alterations to the building until the community, inclusive of the conservancy, community association, zoning, and others, agrees on a plan, and in return, the Conservancy withdraws the Historical Designation of the building. 

It is my fervent hope that we will be able to "compassionately" find common ground that will resolve the issues at hand and allow for a solution that will allow us to move this project forward to the satisfaction of all parties and for the greater good of the community. Maintaining the status quo is not an option. After all, our patients and our community deserve our best.

Dr. John Scanlon

Chief Medical Officer

Temple Health – Chestnut Hill Hospital