Nurses Demand Immediate Halt to Doctors San Pablo Ambulance Diversions and Bed Closures
California Nurses Association Press Release, 8/7/14
Discriminatory action will harm most vulnerable and cause public health emergency—County must intervene.
The California Nurses Association/National Nurses United condemned Contra Costa County officials for its lackluster response to keeping Doctors Medical Center (DMC) open as a full-service hospital today, after an announcement that the hospital will no longer be accepting ambulances, and beds would be capped at fifty.
The RNs call these actions premature, that all options have not been full explored, and that these latest closures will make it increasingly difficult to keep the hospital open as a full-service facility.
“The biggest danger to patients is long ambulance trips,” said Seung Choo, RN, an intensive care unit RN at the facility. “Patients should not be diverted from DMC. An unnecessary, artificial bed cap discriminates against the most vulnerable people in West Contra Costa County, the elderly and disabled. The cap must end immediately so that patients can be brought quickly to a nearby emergency room in West County.”
The hospital serves many indigent patients and a closure would have a disparate and disproportionate impact on the health of African Americans and senior citizens, in violation of their civil rights.
CNA/NNU has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service's Office of Civil Rights, alleging unlawful discrimination by Contra Costa County and the West Contra Costa Healthcare District with the planned closure of the hospital. The complaint seeks injunctive relief from the federal government to prevent the closure of DMC. The federal government is actively investigating the charges.
The nurses union is currently contemplating potential additional legal actions it may take to stop cutbacks in patient services, which are seriously jeopardizing patient safety. Local RNs have been in communication with many local residents who are elderly and seek care at DMC for serious chronic conditions such as heart disease, asthma, and diabetes, and who rely solely on public transportation.
RNs note that DMC provides 60 percent of the emergency care in the region, treating some 40,000 patients a year, and has 79 percent of the area’s hospital beds.
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