Nurses Hold Press Conference to Say, “Keep Community Hospital, Long Beach Open!”
RNs, Community Speak Out on Dire Health Consequences of Losing Hospital
On Tuesday, November 14, nurses and community members will hold a press conference on the public health threat of the proposed closure of Community Hospital, Long Beach (CHLB), the California Nurses Association (CNA) announced today.
Tuesday’s 3 pm press conference will take place ahead of a 3:30 pm meeting by the Long Beach City Council to discuss the severe health impact on the community if CHLB closes. Hospital administration claims the closure is due to an inability to seismically retrofit the facility, in line with state regulations, but according to nurses, no study data has been publicly provided to back up the hospital’s sudden announcement that the facility must close—in as soon as a few months’ time, notwithstanding the fact the hospital’s deadline to retrofit the facility seismically falls nowhere near within the next few months.
Because Community Hospital Long Beach is part of Memorial Health System, which has recorded nearly $1 billion in profits since 2010, say nurses, it is especially egregious that the wealthy hospital system would chose closing CHLB rather than doing a seismic retrofit which it can well afford to accomplish.
“Nurses are appalled by the failure of hospital administration to provide timely notice to staff and to patients in this community, of their decision to close this facility, which provides the only acute care and mental health care in this area,” said Jackie McKay, RN. “Without Community Hospital, Long Beach, local patients are left living in a healthcare desert.”
WHAT: Nurses’ Press Conference on Proposed Closure of Community Hospital, Long Beach
WHEN: Tuesday, November 14, 2017, 3 pm
WHERE: Long Beach City Hall, 333 W. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach, CA (outside main entrance)
Nurses point out that the 165 registered nurses at CHLB (there are 400 total employees at the facility) were notified suddenly, on November 6, of an impending closure, and without any warning or discussion of the impact on staff, patients and the community.
“We question the willingness of hospital administration to rush through this significant decision with the potential of long term and devastating consequences. Patients in our community cannot just be left without access to lifesaving care—overnight, just like that,” said Michelle Pimental, RN.
Hospital administration has raised the possibility of keeping some medical services at the current location, but not acute care, which leaves a void in access to a broad range of vital patient services, including heart attacks, strokes, seizures, internal bleeding, most burns, life threatening allergic reactions, poisoning, electrical shock, and severe abdominal pain, head and back injuries, and bone breaks.
Patients needing true emergency care would need to be rushed to a full service hospital, such as St. Mary Medical Center or Long Beach Memorial Hospital—both several miles away—resulting in unknown delays depending on traffic and ambulance and transport staff availability. Additionally, first responders are then removed for longer periods of time for other patient care needs.
Considering the need for critical healthcare access in the community, nurses say they are demanding that the hospital remain open as a full service acute facility. They are also demanding transparency from the hospital in its decision making process and an independent report be conducted by the City Council, given that the hospital knew, when they leased the building, of the seismic fault line. If further studies have revealed something new, say nurses, then the hospital must release that data to the public.
“Surrounding hospitals will not be able to sustain the overflow of patients without increased wait times, and that delay could be the difference between life and death,” said Brandy Welch, RN. “As patient advocates, nurses are standing up to say Community Hospital, Long Beach must stay open—and must also always be transparent with its process of making decisions that impact the health and safety of our community. Our patients and our nurses deserve better than this.”
California Nurses Association represents nearly 100,000 registered nurses statewide.