State AG asked to intervene in closure of East San Jose trauma center

State AG asked to intervene in closure of East San Jose trauma center
State AG asked to intervene in closure of East San Jose trauma center

Vulnerable patients and community health advocates are asking California’s top cop to stop a private health corporation from closing one of Santa Clara County’s only trauma centers.

The financially driven closure of life-saving services at Regional Medical Center in East San Jose is discriminatory, argues a letter sent Thursday to Attorney General Rob Bonta, because it endangers primarily poor people of color who would have to wait to be transferred to another location or drive half an hour to the next closest trauma unit. Regional, owned by HCA Healthcare, also plans to close its heart attack center and reduce stroke care. The stroke center serves 65% of the county’s uninsured stroke patients, according to county data.

“Inevitably, the proposed closures at the Regional Medical Center will result in decreased access to health care facilities and an increase in adverse outcomes and deaths, predominantly affecting the working poor and communities of color, a population who already experience challenges in accessing even the most basic services,” reads a letter to Bonta signed by the leaders of the community groups Latinas Contra Cancer and Working Partnerships USA.

A chorus of top county leaders has warned that Regional’s service cuts, which take effect Aug. 12, could plunge the county’s entire hospital system into chaos. Health and emergency response officials are scrambling to prepare for the resulting rush of new patients into the county-run Valley Medical Center’s remaining and already overloaded trauma unit. Regional will also call in more ambulances to transport patients who can no longer be served there, causing deadly ambulance delays across the region, according to emergency medical officials. has warned.

“I’m a single mother of two young children,” East San Jose resident Jessica Diangson told San José Spotlight. “I can only imagine if one of them had to be rushed there, but there was nothing there to help them. “I don’t even want to think about that.”

From the heart of the East Side, it can take up to 30 or 45 minutes to get to Valley Medical Center or Kaiser Permanente, Diangson said.

“That time could mean someone’s life, and that someone could be the breadwinner, and what the family is left with are all these difficulties that didn’t have to happen,” Diangson told San José Spotlight.

County officials say the California Department of Public Health has the authority to stop the HCA’s decision if it determines action is warranted to prevent public harm, although the state has historically refused to intervene in hospital decisions.

Community leaders are now turning to the state attorney general for help.

“I am proud to stand firm in our request to Attorney General Rob Bonta to launch a full investigation into the recently announced closure of trauma and STEMI services and downgrade comprehensive stroke services at the Regional Medical Center,” said Councilman from east San José, Peter Ortiz, to San Francisco. José Focus. “I am confident that with the support of the Attorney General and our community, we will be able to stop this proposed reduction.”

Advocates who hosted a news conference Friday argue that the North Carolina Attorney General took similar action against HCA Healthcare in 2023 for severe service cuts at a local nonprofit hospital acquired by HCA, forcing Western North Carolina patients to travel greater distances to receive care. Regional Medical Center was also run by a nonprofit organization before being acquired by HCA in 1998.

“This is what profits do in health care,” Darcie Green, executive director of Latinas Contra Cancer, told San José Spotlight. “This is one more obstacle they are putting for patients.”

Green said this is not the first time the county hospital system has had to absorb the shockwaves of HCA’s service cuts at Regional.

In 2020, Regional’s closure of its delivery unit forced East San Jose residents to travel farther to hospitals while in labor.

“We know that there will be people who will have to wait those extra minutes to get to a different facility, which could mean loss of life, permanent disability and all of that has a human cost, a mental cost and a financial cost,” Green said. . “Who collects all that?”

Contact Brandon Pho at [email protected] or @brandonphooo on X, formerly known as Twitter.

 
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