SAN JOSE: Community Activists Protest SJMC/Alexian Consolidation
San Jose Councilman Manny Diaz, along with labor and nursing activists, is protesting the consolidation of San Jose Medical Center and Alexian Brothers Hospital, saying the proposed arrangement would result in lost jobs, as well as threaten care to the "city's growing downtown population." Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp., which already owns San Jose Medical Center, acquired Alexian Brothers in December; court approval of the deal is pending. The company plans to build a new tower at Alexian Brothers, increasing its capacity to as many as 350 beds and expanding its emergency, surgery and intensive care units. At the same time, SJMC would lose its inpatient beds and its emergency room, retaining only an urgent care unit. Diaz said the change is for the worse, noting that Alexian Brothers is farther from the city's downtown area. He said, "Our downtown is growing, with 5,000 new housing units adding greater demand for health care." He added, "It's very valuable, and the workforce is very valuable," referring to predictions that the consolidation will mean layoffs. But Paul Estess, director of business development for the hospitals, said the improvements to Alexian Brothers would result in better care for the community. He also said, "We want to grow, not reduce our position in the market. We are making a business decision not to continue to operate two small separate facilities and invest in a new downtown hospital -- but instead create a new, larger campus. If we're successful, we will keep our business and grow, and will need more employees, not less." Consumers Union will ask the Superior Court today to allow it to become a party to the final hearing on the merger approval (Krieger, San Jose Mercury News, 4/29).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.