The Daly City Council may urge Attorney General Kamala Harris to order any buyer of Seton Medical Center to keep the facility operating as a full-service acute hospital with the same employees, labor agreements and pension obligations.
Mayor David Canepa will ask the council Monday night to adopt a resolution asking Harris to consider Seton’s history and service when reviewing the potential sale of the Daughters of Charity Health System, or DCHS, of which the Daly City hospital belongs.
“Sometimes when these transactions happen, it might be too late to act. We want to get out in front and be preemptive,” Canepa said.
DCHS spokeswoman Elizabeth Nikels did not return an inquiry for comment on the sale’s status but Canepa said he has heard the pool has been winnowed down from 100 to approximately five and a deal is expected by the end of this month.
The allegedly closing window is one reason Canepa said the City Council needs to let Harris know how the community feels.
“It doesn’t just affect us in Daly City. It’s South San Francisco. It’s Brisbane. It’s Broadmoor,” he said. “Where will people go?”
The resolution calls on Harris to require Seton remain operating as an acute care hospital with the same staff and agreements while transitioning to the new provider.
State law requires the attorney general to review and approve any sale or transfer of a health care facility owned or operated by a nonprofit corporation. The review process includes public meetings and the decision often requires the continuation of existing levels of charity care and operation of emergency rooms and services to avoid impacts on local health care, according to the Office of the Attorney General’s website.
Seton and sister hospital Seton Coastside in Moss Beach are part of DCHS which put its six private medical centers on the market in January, leaving questions about what the future held for staff and patients in the northern and coastside sections of the county.
Seton Coastside is a 116-bed skilled nursing facility with the only 24-hour emergency department along the 55-mile stretch between Daly City and Santa Cruz. Seton in Daly City provides a large chunk of the county’s indigent care which is what prompted county officials to give nearly $19 million in Measure A sales tax funds for seismic upgrades at the aging hospital. DCHS and Seton donated more than $1.5 million to the pro-Measure A committee to get the half-cent tax passed by voters.
Health and county officials worried that the hospital’s closure would tax the overall Health System and cripple some patients’ access to care. Seton is also Daly City’s biggest employer.
Labor groups and officials like Canepa have held vigils at Seton to demand DCHS commit to keep the hospital after the ownership change. Phuong Tran, a spokeswoman with the California Nurses Association, said the roughly 500 nurses it represents at Seton are worried especially because they don’t know who the new buyer might be.
“We’re concerned because we’ve seen nothing in writing that would commit the new owners to maintain the current level of services that are there now,” Tran said.
Two rumored buyers are an investment group known for buying and selling off hospitals and Prime Healthcare Services, which has been subject of federal probes, Tran said.
But the bottom line is not who actually cuts the check, she said.
“Our position is that it really doesn’t matter who is going to buy the hospital,” she said. “The priority is that it remains open.”
The Daly City Council meets 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 11 at City Hall, 333 90th St., Daly City.
(650) 344-5200 ext. 102