Emergency coronavirus funding keeps embattled Seton hospital open

Newsom directs $2.7 million monthly payments to the Daly City hospital

Gov. Gavin Newsom directed emergency COVID-19 funds Thursday to lease beds at Seton Medical Center in Daly City, saving the embattled hospital from imminent closure.

California will fund the operation of the 357-bed safety net hospital and Seton Coastside, 116-bed skilled nursing facility in Moss Beach during the novel coronavirus crisis to the tune of $2.7 million per month, according to San Mateo County Supervisor David Canepa. Seton Medical Center faced immediate closure earlier this month but its owner, Verity Health Systems, delayed the order after public outcry.

The emergency care hospital, whose patients are 80 percent MediCal and Medicaid recipients, faced steep operating losses and has undergone bankruptcy proceedings since August 2018. The inital buyer, Strategic Global Management, did not close the sale by the bankruptcy court deadline in December after a dispute with Verity, sending staff and patients into a panic shortly before the global pandemic.

California will deposit $5 million for the first month, $2.7 million each month after and may pay up to an additional $2.3 million a month depending on bed-use by coronavirus patients at the two facilities. Seton Medical Center is treating one confirmed coronavirus case.

“I’m grateful the governor saw the urgent need to keep Seton Medical Center open during this pandemic,” said Assemblymember Phil Ting, who represents San Francisco and Daly City, and helped secure the funds. “But even after our current public health crisis passes, it would have been imperative for this facility remain open because 27,000 patients, mostly elderly and low-income, are served there. Seton’s closure would have created a health care desert. I’m proud to have worked with community leaders over the past year to help save it.”

The state will not take over the hospital, but help lease the beds during the coronavirus outbreak. California has 1,001 confirmed cases and 19 deaths as of Thursday.

Negotiations with Apollo Medical Holdings are ongoing, according to Canepa. The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors approved $20 million in emergency funds earlier this month to buy the hospital time during negotiations. Now, the next step is to ensure worker safety and safety of patients by making sure they have the resources they need, he added.

“Seton’s position is key to making sure people get healthy,” Canepa said. “It’s about saving lives, we can’t lose that. The world is watching.”

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