MID-CITY — A nonprofit health care group’s bid to buy Saint John’s Health Center is under review by the state Attorney General’s Office.

Parking at Saint John's Health Center has been a point of contention for residents. (Photo courtesy Google Images)

Parking at Saint John’s Health Center has been a point of contention for residents. (Photo courtesy Google Images)

The deal, which totals at least $125 million, is being evaluated for any impacts it might have on healthcare services in the area.

Last month, current owners —  the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Health Systems, a Kansas-based not for profit corporation — asked the attorney general for permission to sell the hospital to Providence Health System, a Southern California-based nonprofit religious corporation.

About 60 members of the public met at Saint Anne’s Church on Monday to voice opinions about the deal for the benefit of Deputy Attorney General Wendi Horwitz.

The total to be paid by Providence, according to the attorney general’s report, is $125 million plus “an amount of money equal to the Closing Working Capital.”

The report also includes analysis by a medical consulting group, which determined that the number of employees at Saint John’s will likely increase after the transfer in ownership. There is no predicted change to the number of medical staff, the report said.

In Providence’s agreement, they make no commitment to continuing to provide community benefits or charity care.

Saint John’s has paid an average of $3.4 million in community benefits and $2.8 million in charity care annually.

In its recommendations, the consulting group calls for these benefits to be extended for at least five years.

Saint John’s has lost money over the past five years, losing about $8.6 million in 2012. The hospital is at a disadvantage as it is a stand-alone hospital that has been losing patients and doctors to larger medical groups that have consolidated, according to the consulting group’s report.

Many who spoke at Monday’s meeting emphasized the value that Providence provides, having a large network of local health centers.

Michael Hunn, senior vice-president and regional chief executive at Providence, noted that one in four Los Angeles County hospitals is a Providence hospital. They are the eighth largest employer in the county, he said.

Dr. Russ Kino, who served on Saint John’s Board of Directors, said that under the Accountable Care Act, hospitals need to be a part of a network.

“Hospitals can’t survive as a sole entity,” he said.

John Robertson, director of cardiovascular surgery, echoed that sentiment.

“We are getting on our feet with the strength of Providence,” he said. “We are going to get bigger and stronger. We could no longer stand alone as an independent hospital.”

Several neighborhood group representatives trashed the current hospital leadership, saying that Saint John’s creates parking issues in the neighborhood.

Parking has long been a problem for Saint John’s. In 1998, Saint John’s signed an agreement with City Hall promising to build a new parking garage. They did not build the garage and later negotiated parking leases with several surrounding properties. City Hall deemed this to be the “functional equivalent” of building the parking garage. Residents claim that the parking rates are too high, causing patients and employees to park on the neighborhood streets for free.

Tricia Crane, of Northeast Neighbors, asked the attorney general to include a stipulation in the approval of the transfer that would require Providence to provide reasonably priced parking.

“This has been an unmet need for years, and it appears to be even more of an issue now as Providence plans to expand medical staff,” she said. “So we would like to see the wonderful abundance that has come into this hospital used to benefit the neighborhood.”

Many Saint John’s staff members said neighbors were exaggerating the extent of the parking problem.

 

dave@smdp.com

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