[Jan. 5, 2015] LYNWOOD, Calif. – Hundreds of healthcare workers, community members and elected officials protested today against the sale of St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood to a highly controversial company, Prime Healthcare. They said the sale would threaten low-income residents’ access to healthcare and risk cutting healthcare services and jobs, and urged California Attorney General Kamala Harris to block the sale. Healthcare workers emphasized that the bankruptcy or closure of any of the six hospitals owned by Daughters of Charity Health System is unnecessary because there is an alternative buyer.
“Over the years, I have given so much heart and effort to my patients and that’s why it’s hard for me to understand why Daughters of Charity would choose Prime Healthcare,” said Stephanie Allen, a respiratory therapist at Prime-owned Centinela Medical Center in Inglewood, Calif. “I have worked under Prime’s management for seven years and I want the attorney general and the public to know that these communities deserve better than Prime Healthcare.”
Healthcare workers and allies testified at a public hearing convened by the attorney general, who must either approve or reject the deal before Feb. 12, 2015. Those speaking against the sale included employees from St. Francis Medical Center who are wary of Prime’s record, and workers from Prime-owned hospitals in the region who say their employer’s tarnished history makes it a bad fit to take over the Daughters of Charity Health System.
“It’s a little unbelievable that Prime is even being considered to take over these hospitals given that it’s facing a federal investigation and is being sued by doctors,” said Isaac Rodriguez, an emergency medical technician at St. Francis Medical Center. “This is not the type of company I want to work for.”
Daughters of Charity passed over a stronger bid from Blue Wolf Capital, which dedicates $300 million to capital improvements – twice as much as Prime Healthcare – preserves workers’ pensions in a way that saves the system money without reducing benefits.
Opponents of the sale include State Controller John Chiang, 18 members of the California Congressional delegation, 56 current or former state legislators, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, county and city elected officials, doctors, nurses, community organizations, and union members representing two million workers.
Daughters of Charity announced Oct. 10 that it chose Prime Healthcare as the lead bidder for the six-hospital, safety-net system and would negotiate with Prime exclusively. Concern lies with Prime Healthcare’s dismal record and business practices:
- Prime admitted that it is under federal investigation for alleged overbilling of the federal government;
- Prime paid $370,000 in federal and state fines after deliberately violating a patient’s privacy by sharing her records with journalists and 800 employees;
- A group of doctors in San Bernardino County sued Prime Healthcare in 2013 when the company denied them access to their own patients;
- The company’s Desert Valley Hospital was sanctioned by the California Department of Public Health for improper care resulting in a patient’s death; and
- Prime’s Garden Grove hospital was cited by the State of California after a patient was administered a lethal dose of a powerful sedative.
Daughters of Charity owns Seton Medical Center, Daly City; Seton Coastside, Moss Beach; O’Connor Hospital, San Jose; Saint Louise Regional Hospital, Gilroy; St. Vincent Medical Center, Los Angeles; and St. Francis Medical Center, Lynwood.