Superior Court Judge Orders Daniel Freeman Marina Hospital To Remain Open Pending Trial
A Superior Court judge yesterday ordered Daniel Freeman Marina Hospital in Marina Del Ray to remain open pending the trial of Tenet Healthcare Corp. on charges that it failed to meet conditions stipulated when it purchased the facility last December, the Los Angeles Times reports. Attorney General Bill Lockyer (D) called for the order in July, claiming that Tenet failed to offer "sufficient evidence" that it sought "input from the public, elected officials and others" before closing the hospital (Luna, Los Angeles Times, 8/14). Tenet acquired the hospital as part of the $55 million purchase of Daniel Freeman Hospitals, the last not-for-profit facilities in Marina del Rey and Inglewood. Lockyer approved the sale of the hospitals after Tenet agreed to 21 conditions to ensure that the hospitals would provide services offered by most not-for-profit facilities. Under the agreement, Tenet could close Daniel Freeman Marina but was required to provide patients with transportation to other facilities until June 2005 to ensure their access to health services. Tenet also agreed to maintain an urgent care facility in the area and to establish an outreach program to inform local residents of their options after the hospital's closure (California Healthline, 7/10). Tenet had planned to close the hospital on Aug. 26, at which time the required 90-day closure notification would have expired, the AP/Fresno Bee reports.
Superior Court Judge Dzintra Janavs granted a preliminary injunction and ordered the hospital to continue to provide emergency care, admit new nonemergency patients and "stop processing" the closure of the facility until Lockyer's conditions are met or the trial is held (AP/Fresno Bee, 8/14). The hospital has seen only emergency patients since May 30, the Times reports. Tenet lawyer Margie Lewis claimed that since the company announced the closure in May, staffing at the hospital had fallen to "unsafe levels," which could "endange[r] public safety" if the hospital remains open. But Janavs said that the hospital must "restaff to appropriate levels." Tenet spokesperson David Langness said, "We will not wait for trial ... [to] comply with the judges conditions and requirements" (Los Angeles Times, 8/14).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.