2 California hospitals face closure if sale delayed

Santa Clara County (Calif.) officials criticized California Attorney General Xavier Becerra at a press conference Jan. 24 for trying to block the county's purchase of two bankrupt hospitals, according to The Mercury News.

In December, the bankruptcy court approved Santa Clara County's $235 million offer to buy O'Connor Hospital in San Jose and St. Louise Regional Hospital in Gilroy from El Segundo, Calif.-based Verity Health, which entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy in August. Mr. Becerra appealed the bankruptcy court's approval of the sale earlier this month, putting the deal in jeopardy.

Mr. Becerra is seeking to halt the sale because Santa Clara County has not agreed to conditions put in place in 2015 when private hedge fund Blue Mountain Capital acquired six hospitals owned by Los Altos, Calif.-based Daughters of Charity Health System. The deal and name change to Verity were approved, subject to several conditions.

"In this case, we have the responsibility to ensure any transfer of the hospital maintains previously imposed conditions," Mr. Becerra's office said in an emailed statement to The Mercury News. "The conditions include the requirement to have an emergency room, inpatient facility beds, intensive care services, and NICU. The Attorney General is fighting to ensure these conditions are enforced."

At the Jan. 24 press conference, Santa Clara County CEO Jeff Smith, MD, said Mr. Becerra cares more about maintaining "power and control" over regulations than local residents' access to public hospitals, according to the report.

A bankruptcy court hearing on Mr. Becerra's request to halt the sale of the hospitals is set for Jan. 30. Dr. Smith said the outcome of the hearing could determine whether the hospitals shut down.

"If that stay is granted, that will delay the process … and it is highly likely those hospitals will close," he said, according to The Mercury News.

O'Connor Hospital and St. Louise Regional Hospital are two of the six hospitals Verity operated when it filed for bankruptcy protection. On Jan. 18, Verity announced it had received a $610 million offer for the other four hospitals.

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