Prime Healthcare Has History of Reducing Women’s Access to Care by Cutting Maternity Services

[Jan. 14, 2015] LOS ANGELES – Prime Healthcare’s history of cutting maternity services at hospitals it acquires reduces women’s access to healthcare and is yet another reason the company should not be permitted to purchase the Daughters of Charity Health System.

Research released today shows that at seven hospitals owned by Prime Healthcare in California the number of births dropped between 39 percent and 100 percent after the facilities were acquired by the company.

“Low-income women already struggle enough to get access to healthcare, and that would only get worse if Daughters of Charity is sold to Prime,” said Natalie Garza, an emergency room technician at O’Connor Hospital in San Jose. “This sale needs to be stopped before women are harmed even more by a company that’s looking out for its bottom line, not looking out for our medical needs.”

According to data from the State of California, Prime Healthcare drastically reduced prenatal services at six hospitals after acquiring them, and closed its maternity ward at a seventh facility. Chino Valley Medical Center experienced the greatest reduction in births, going from 927 the year before being purchased by Prime to zero in 2013, by which time the unit had closed.

The research is critical because it counters claims by Daughters of Charity and its allies in recent hearings conducted by California Attorney General Kamala Harris, that Prime Healthcare doesn’t reduce services after buying hospitals.

  • When Prime Healthcare bought Centinela Hospital in Inglewood, Calif. in 2007, the company announced in a press release that it would “maintain all currently-offered services.” However, a year after Prime purchased the hospital it reported 2,000 fewer births.
  • After Prime purchased Montclair Hospital Medical Center in San Bernardino County in 2006, it closed the obstetrics unit at nearby Chino Valley Medical Center. In addition to area residents losing maternity services at Chino Valley, births at Montclair have dropped by 39 percent since Prime acquired the hospital.

Prime’s pattern of cutting services (see chart below) could have significant consequences for pregnant women who rely on Daughters of Charity hospitals. Figures reveal that there were more than 9,200 births at Daughters’ six California hospitals in 2013.

Number of Births at Prime-Owned Hospitals
Hospital (city) Year before Prime acquisition 1st full year of Prime ownership 2013 % change           (pre-purchase to 2013)
Centinela (Inglewood) 3,781 1,761 785 -79%
Chino Valley (Chino) 927 518 0 -100%
Garden Grove 3,000 2,548 1,682 -44%
La Palma 672 322 402 -40%
Montclair 1,247 934 766 -39%
Paradise Valley (National City) 2,119 1,290 961 -55%
San Dimas 766 467 396 -48%
TOTAL 12,512 7,840 4,992 -60%
Source: California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development

California Attorney General Kamala Harris must either approve or reject the Daughters of Charity sale to Prime Healthcare before Feb. 12, 2015. Healthcare workers have urged her to block the sale because Prime is a bad fit to continue the safety-net mission of the Daughters of Charity Health System.

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, is more securely funded, will continue the historic community mission of the hospitals, and will preserve workers’ pensions in a way that saves the system money without reducing benefits. The sale agreement between Daughters of Charity and Prime Healthcare includes a payout of $11.5 million to Daughters’ executives – the same executives who have run the system into the ground.

Opponents of the sale include State Controller John Chiang, 18 members of the California Congressional delegation, 62 current or former state legislators, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, county and city elected officials, doctors, nurses, community organizations, and labor unions representing two million workers.

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.

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