LYNWOOD – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has conditionally approved the sale of St. Francis Medical Center to Prime Healthcare.
The announcement came on July 18, about a week after a healthcare worker union formally challenged Becerra – whose office needs to approve the sale – and asked him to decline the offer. The sale is "not in the public interest" and is likely to have a "negative impact on the availability and accessibility of community health care".
Becerra said his approval was aimed at "protecting access to care for the Los Angeles-based communities."
Prime Healthcare "will continue to work with the Attorney General as we review the recommended terms and work to complete the sale," said Dr. Sunny Bhatia, CEO, Region I and Chief Medical Officer of Prime Healthcare.
"St. Francis' mission is particularly important during this pandemic and Prime has already made investments to optimize patient care in St. Francis, ”said Bhatia.
"Obtaining conditional approval is an important step in ensuring that Prime will serve the St. Francis mission for the benefit of its staff, medical personnel, and especially patients and the community in southeast Los Angeles, which has been residing on St Francis can leave, can sustain years, ”said Rich Adcock, CEO of Verity Health, on July 18.
Service worker International Union-United Healthcare Workers West asks Verity Health System, the current owner of St. Francis, to find a new buyer for the 384-bed acute care hospital, including Prime Healthcare, for approximately $ 350 million has acquired a base price of $ 200 million and $ 15 million in employee payslips and benefits.
Steve Trossman, representative of SEIU-UHW, claimed that despite the conditions associated with the sale, including maintaining or improving care in all areas of the hospital, "we do not believe that a hospital chain with Prime Healthcare records … is the right one The buyer for this critical point is The Safety Network Hospital treats 85,000 patients annually and has one of the busiest emergency trauma centers in Los Angeles County. "
Prime Healthcare said on July 7 that, although it cannot comment on any pending litigation or regulatory matters, the company "is committed to continuing all of St. Francis' services, maintaining charity, maintaining charitable programs, and raising millions in capital." invest and St. Francis is able to continue and strengthen its 75-year legacy and serve the best interests of patients, the community and the public. "
The company said that the union's objection to the proposed sale was due to obstacles to an employment contract with the hospital.
Trossman replied that Prime "is simply the wrong buyer for this hospital and a sale to Prime could tear a hole in LA County's health system if we need it to be at its best."
Becerra wrote in his conditional approval letter that the Department of Justice of California "has a responsibility towards families living nearby who rely on St. Francis Medical Center. The COVID-19 public health crisis has shown the importance of having access to life-saving hospital care close to our communities. "
He said the conditions that the Department of Justice associated with the proposed sale focused on maintaining or improving hospital care and services – from the treatment of COVID-19 to cancer and emergency care.
"No change of ownership, no bankruptcy filing may reduce this priority," said Becerra's statement. "St. The Francis Medical Center is not just an asset, it is an indispensable neighbor, it is the workers who serve the patients and the doctors who save lives. We reserve this sale conditionally so that it stays that way. "
SEIU-UHW claims Prime has previously alleged Medicare fraud, unnecessary hospitalization, deliberate misdiagnosis of patients, and the elimination of essential services such as cancer and maternity.
"Prime's shocking story of fraud, fraud, and repeated health care removal that patients rely on is simply inconsistent with owning a hospital like St. Francis, which is a lifeline for people in Lynwood and the surrounding area Represents communities, "said Mauricio Medina. certified nursing assistant in St. Francis and member of SEIU-UHW.
Prime replied that the union's allegations were "unfortunate and untrue".
St. Francis – which calls itself the largest healthcare facility in southeast Los Angeles County – treats approximately 80,000 emergency patients annually.
With 97,000 members, SEIU-UHW is one of the largest hospital worker unions in the United States, including approximately 1,000 in St. Francis.
Wave Wire Services