Verity didn't provide timely public notice of potential Los Angeles hospital closure, RNs allege

Registered nurses have filed an opposition in bankruptcy court alleging that Verity Health System is failing to follow California laws regarding its plans to close a 366-bed Los Angeles hospital. 

El Segundo, Calif.-based Verity announced Jan. 6 that it plans to close St. Vincent Medical Center, after a deal for Corona, Calif.-based KPC Group to acquire four hospitals from Verity fell through. Verity, which entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2018, is now seeking bankruptcy court approval for the closure.

But RNs filed an opposition Jan. 7 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Los Angeles to prevent Verity from closing the hospital, according to the union that represents them.

The nurses contend that the closure presents a serious public safety risk and that Verity is failing to follow state laws, the California Nurses Association said. This includes a statute that requires hospitals that provide emergency medical services to provide at least 90-day public notification, as well as notification to state and local governments, before a planned reduction or elimination of emergency medical services.

"St. Vincent provides care to more than 80 patients a day in our emergency room," Christine Chung, RN, said in a news release, citing statistics from California's Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development. "Many of these patients are in critical condition, where seconds can mean the difference between life and death. I fear that closing St. Vincent could lead to unnecessary and preventable deaths."

Additionally, the union contends that Verity was aware in November that the acquisition deal with KPC Group was in jeopardy of not being finalized but did not try to provide timely notification to the public or employees of a potential closure. 

"Instead, Verity waited until Jan. 6 to alert the public, just as Verity was filing a request with the bankruptcy court to start closing the hospital next week," the union said.

Rich Adcock, CEO of Verity, told Becker's Hospital Review that the planned hospital closure is "due to a lack of feasible alternatives." 

"Verity has announced it will seek court authority to proceed with the orderly closure of St. Vincent Medical Center," he wrote in a statement. "This decision is not taken lightly and comes only after exhausting every option to keep the hospital open. While we deeply regret the closure of St. Vincent, we know that this community will continue to be well-served by nearby hospitals."

The bankruptcy court is expected to consider Verity's request to close St. Vincent on Jan. 9.


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