Heeding calls from caregivers, Gov. Newsom acts to save hospitals

NewsMarch 30, 2020

After months of advocating for government intervention to spare two hospitals in San Mateo County, caregivers at Seton Medical Center and Seton Coastside applauded Governor Newsom’s action this month to keep the hospitals open during the COVID-19 outbreak.

“We can finally breathe a sigh of relief,” said Christina Caridis, a radiology technologist at Seton Medical Center. “We’re ready to meet this crisis head on, and now we know we’ll be able to serve our community during the entire scope of this public health emergency and hopefully many years into the future.”

Under Newsom’s directive, the state will lease both hospitals during the Coronavirus outbreak. The state will deposit $5 million for the first month and $2.7 million for each additional month to ensure the state has sufficient capacity to care for patients who have contracted the virus, according to the San Francisco Examiner

Seton Medical Center, a 357-bed hospital in Daly City and Seton Coastside, a 116-bed hospital and skilled nursing facility in Moss Beach, have been faced with potential closure since its parent company Verity Health declared bankruptcy in 2018.

After a proposed sale fell through, Verity had threatened to close the hospitals this month, but postponed moving ahead with a closure after the San Mateo Board of Supervisors, under intense pressure from caregivers and community allies, authorized up to $20 million in public funds as an enticement for a new potential buyer, Apollo Medical Holdings, to complete a sale. Negotiations on a potential sale are still ongoing.

Newsom moved to lease the hospitals following the passage of SB 89 on Tuesday, which appropriated up to $500 million in funds to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Seton Medical Center provides emergency services to more than 24,000 San Mateo County and San Francisco residents.

“We are fortunate to have such strong, decisive political leadership on the local and state level committed to keeping these hospitals open,” NUHW President Sal Rosselli said. “Shuttering these two hospitals would leave tens of thousands of people without access to emergency care; and shuttering them during a pandemic would have been an outright public health disaster for the entire region. Now we have some breathing room to get a deal done and keep these hospitals open long-term for the people of San Mateo County and San Francisco.”