State Attorney General Rejects Prime Healthcare’s Bid to Purchase Victor Valley Community Hospital

For Immediate Release: September 20, 2011
Contact: David Tokaji, 323-888-8103, dtokaji@seiu-uhw.org

VICTORVILLE, Calif. – State Attorney General Kamala Harris today rejected a bid to purchase Victor Valley Community Hospital by Prime Healthcare, a corporation plagued by allegations of business practices harmful to patients, caregivers and their communities.

“In the wake of revelations about extremely high septicemia and malnutrition rates at Prime-operated hospitals and deeply troubling practices in its emergency rooms, Prime should be thoroughly investigated before any acquisitions are permitted in the state of California. CEO Prem Reddy’s track record of maximizing profits at the expense of quality care and workers’ rights is finally catching up with him,” said Dave Regan, president of Service Employees International Union—United Healthcare Workers West  (SEIU-UHW), which represents 3,000 workers at Prime facilities statewide.

Prime is currently facing a variety of allegations, including possible Medicare fraud, tax evasion, unusually high blood infection and malnutrition rates at its facilities, and even holding patients captive in its hospitals to increase revenue. It also has a track record of cutting unprofitable services and laying off experienced caregivers in hospitals it buys.

“The Attorney General’s decision will help protect healthcare services in the High Desert,” said Laphonza Butler, president of Service Employees International Union-United Long Term Care Workers (SEIU-ULTCW), which represents 17,000 caregivers in San Bernardino County, where Victor Valley Hospital is located. “This decision is a victory for caregivers, patients and consumers who depend on quality healthcare.”

The attorney general’s ruling comes just two weeks after the state legislature passed SB 408, a bill that would limit Prime’s ability to purchase more facilities. The company was able to buy Alvarado Hospital in San Diego last year without applying for a new hospital license due to a loophole in existing state law. SB 408 closes that loophole by forcing Prime and other hospital buyers to obtain a new license from the California Department of Public Health before being allowed to operate a facility.

The bill, introduced by California State Senator Dr. Ed Hernandez (D – West Covina), now awaits Governor Brown’s signature. Hundreds of healthcare workers and patients have been calling and writing letters to the governor urging him to sign the bill to hold Prime accountable to safe, quality care.

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SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) is the largest hospital and healthcare union in the western United States with more than 150,000 members. We unite every type of healthcare worker with a mission to achieve high-quality healthcare for all. SEIU-UHW is part of the 2.1 million-member Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the nation’s fastest-growing union. Learn more at www.seiu-uhw.org.

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