A health care workers union announced Tuesday it has filed a formal objection with California’s attorney general to the sale of St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood to Prime Healthcare.
In its written opposition submitted to Attorney General Xavier Becerra — whose office must approve the sale — Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West calls for a rejection of the offer, saying the sale is “not in the public interest” and likely to have a “negative impact on the availability and accessibility of health care in the community.”
SEIU-UHW is calling on Verity Health System, the current owner of St. Francis, to find a new purchaser for the 384-bed general acute care hospital that Prime Healthcare agreed to acquire for over $350 million, including a $200 million base price and $15 million in payroll and benefits for staff.
Prime Healthcare responded that while it cannot comment on pending litigation or regulatory matters, the company is “committed to continuing every one of St. Francis’ services, preserving charity care, maintaining community benefit programs, investing millions in capital and ensuring 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 indicated that the objection to the proposed sale stems from obstacles to reaching an employment contract with the health care workers union.
“We hope to get back to the bargaining table with SEIU to reach an agreement in the best interest of St. Francis employees, patients, and the community,” Prime stated, adding that it has been “deeply engaged in negotiations with SEIU for months and has made generous offers that maintain wages for nearly all current members.”
SEIU-UHW contends that Prime has a history of allegations involving Medicare fraud, bilking taxpayers and misdiagnosing patients.
“Prime’s shocking history of deceit, fraud and repeated elimination of health services that patients depend on is simply out of step with owning a hospital like St. Francis, which is a lifeline to the people of Lynwood and surrounding communities,” alleged Mauricio Medina, a certified nursing assistant at St. Francis and a member of SEIU-UHW.
Prime said that a news release with the allegations raised Tuesday by the union was “unfortunate and untrue because it takes facts out of context and misrepresents them.”
St. Francis — which bills itself as the largest health care facility serving southeast Los Angeles County — treats about 80,000 emergency room patients per year.
SEIU-UHW is one of the largest unions of hospital workers in the United States, with 97,000 members, including about 1,000 at St. Francis.
>> Want to read more stories like this? Get our Free Daily Newsletters Here!Follow us: