QUEEN OF ANGELS: Opposition To Deal Mounts
"Several hundred people" turned out for a "crowded community meeting Saturday over the sale of Queen of Angels-Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center" to Tenet Healthcare Corp., the Los Angeles Times reports. The meeting, the "first of two public sessions on the proposed sale of the 410-bed Catholic community hospital," was interrupted "by outcries from placard-wielding, foot-stomping opponents who chanted, 'Save the Queen!'" The Times reports that "[o]pponents, including a spokeswoman for Cardinal Roger Mahoney of Los Angeles, took the opportunity to lambaste the transaction, suggesting that Tenet may be more interested in satisfying stockholders than in treating the residents of the surrounding low-income, largely immigrant Hollywood-area community." Councilwoman Jackie Goldberg asked the attorney general, who must approve the sale, to "deny the application." She said, "This is not a good deal for the community, and it does not protect what we already have" (Marquis, 3/1).
Today's Los Angeles Times features an op-ed by Councilwoman Goldberg, State Assembly Speaker Antonio Villaraigosa (D-Los Angeles) and state Rep. Scott Wildman (D-Burbank) calling for the state to stop the sale of Queen of Angeles. They note that the "hospital provides care for a community with few other options," and that many of its "patients are the working poor with full-time jobs but no health insurance." They say the sale to Tenet "could threaten all of that." Specifically, the lawmakers say the "terms of the agreement allow Tenet to drastically reduce the hospital's charity care," which they noted is worth some $30 million annually, "at a time when County-USC Medical Center is also being dramatically scaled back in size." The authors go on to say that "Tenet's track record does not inspire confidence about its willingness to meet community needs," noting that Tenet has only pledged to maintain certain basic charity care services at Queen of Angels for five years, including emergency services and an obstetrics perinatal unit. Tenet has made no pledges about protecting jobs, and the authors note that "[s]ince this time last year, Tenet has closed down two Southern California hospitals" (3/2). Consumers Union attorney Julio Mateo testified at the hearing that the purchase of Queen of Angles should not be approved by the state "due to weak guarantees on emergency services and indigent care and the questionable use of the charitable proceeds from the sale." According to Consumers Union, the community will suffer a loss of $15 million annually in community benefit programs under the terms of the sale (Consumers Union release, 2/27).