Press Release: Caregivers to speak out against Napa County hospital merger

August 2nd, 2019

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 1, 2019
Contact: Matthew Artz, 510-435-8035, martz@nuhw.org

Caregivers at Queen of the Valley Medical Center will join community members in demanding further review of a proposed hospital merger that would reduce available medical care in Napa County.

WHAT: Public hearing on Providence St. Joseph/Adventist Health West merger

WHEN: 10 a.m. Friday, August 2

WHERE: Council Chambers, Napa City Hall, 955 School St., Napa

The proposed merger between Providence St. Joseph Health, which owns Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa, and Adventist Health West, which owns St. Helena Hospital, would be a net loss for Napa patients. The deal would effectively combine the only two acute-care hospitals serving Napa County. If California Attorney General Xavier Becerra approves the deal, Adventist plans to close obstetrics and behavioral health services at St. Helena Hospital as well as 18 hospital beds and other key services, transferring patients to Queen of the Valley Medical Center and Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital. Furthermore, a merger of the two hospitals would eliminate competition and threaten residents with higher prices.

“This merger would make two hospital chains even more profitable at the expense of Napa Valley residents,” said Paula Reimers a Queen of the Valley respiratory care practitioner. “We’re already understaffed at Queen of the Valley. If this merger goes through, we’ll be getting more patients without the staffing we need to care for them.”

Napa is the flashpoint of the proposed Providence St. Joseph – Adventist merger, which would combine operations of five Adventist hospitals and four Providence St. Joseph hospitals in Northern California under a joint operating company. Amid concern from caregivers and community leaders, Becerra postponed ruling on the merger until September and scheduled a second hearing in Napa County on Aug. 2. Caregivers are calling on Becerra to further delay any ruling until his office analyzes the merger’s impact on patient care at Queen of the Valley, Napa’s largest hospital.

Providence St. Joseph Health was created in 2016 from a merger of Providence Health & Services and St. Joseph Health. Shortly after the merger, the new entity, headquartered in Renton, Washington, laid off 55 caregivers at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, even though the facility had reported a $70 million operating profit. It has also failed to meet obligations for providing charity care at North Bay hospitals.

Understaffing remains a primary concern for workers at Providence St. Joseph hospitals. A recent study of Queen of the Valley caregivers by the National Union of Healthcare Workers found that 72 percent of respondents reported that their shifts were understaffed at least once a week and 61 percent reported that they don’t have enough staff to handle the workload. At Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, 66 percent of caregivers reported they didn’t have enough staff to handle the workload, the union found.

Providence St. Joseph is the nation’s fourth-largest Catholic health system with 51 hospitals and 829 clinics. Adventist Health operates 20 hospitals and more than 280 clinics.