DOWNEY, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--A grassroots coalition of Downey citizens and physicians is mobilizing to oppose controversial plans at the former Downey Regional Medical Center (now known as PIH Health Hospital – Downey) to replace a group of local doctors who have treated patients at its emergency room for nearly 30 years with a cheaper and less experienced emergency room physician staff from a large national provider. Downey Citizens for Quality Patient Care (www.downey4patientcare.com), is gathering signatures for a petition asking that Brian Smolskis, the hospital’s Chief Operating Officer, reverse his decision to terminate the group of local physicians. This issue will also be discussed on Tuesday, July 28 at the Downey City Council meeting (6:30 p.m., Downey City Hall Council Chambers, 11111 Brookshire Ave.). All concerned residents are encouraged to attend and support our hometown doctors.
If not reversed, the termination will become effective on August 14th, resulting in a significant reduction in the quality of care available to emergency room patients at PIH Health Hospital – Downey, the group says.
The controversial staffing move stems from the 2009 bankruptcy and eventual sale of Downey Regional Medical Center to PIH Health, and PIH Health’s almost immediate cancellation of the contract in place with Downey Acute Care Medical Group (DACMG), the hometown emergency room physicians group. Several members of DACMG have been providing care at the Downey emergency room for more than 30 years.
“It’s nearly impossible to overstate what a short-sighted and harmful decision this is for the community,” said Dr. Jack Kennis, managing partner of DACMG. “These doctors have treated our children, and they have quite literally saved the lives of members of our community. They know Downey’s police, firemen and EMTs. They are part of the fabric of this community, and we can’t allow PIH Health to remove them in order to cut their costs and bolster their profits at the expense of our citizens’ well-being.”
Downey Citizens for Quality Patient Care says that the termination of the DACMG physicians is just one ill-advised component of a larger cost-cutting plan that will greatly reduce the quality of care at PIH Health Hospital. The petition explains that the ER already routinely operates at only 50 percent of its capacity due to an exodus of experienced nurses under PIH Health’s ownership. This is in violation of the Attorney General’s order that was a condition of PIH Health’s purchase of the hospital out of bankruptcy, and has led not only to longer patient wait times, but to 12 percent of patients leaving the ER without ever being seen, in contrast to 3 percent prior to PIH Health’s takeover. Further, the physicians staffing PIH Health’s new-look ER will be far less experienced than the seasoned professionals that DACMG has had in place for many years.
“Right now, PIH Health is putting profits over patient care—it’s as simple as that,” Dr. Kennis said. “They are removing a group of physicians that has never had a malpractice claim against it, despite seeing 55,000 patients each year. In their place, PIH Health is recruiting doctors through online advertisements, who will obviously be less experienced and much cheaper than the high-quality staff currently in place.”
The Downey Citizens for Quality Patient Care website points out that while the elimination of DACMG’s physicians is PIH Health’s most egregious error, it is far from its only one. It notes that PIH Health is also intent on completely stripping Downey’s identity from the hospital. This has already included the removal of photographs of key donors from the hospital’s foundation wall, and an initiative to re-brand the hospital as PIH Health Hospital – Whittier. The latter ignores the fact that Whittier and Downey are separate communities, and seeks to leverage the relative affluence of the Whittier community.
About Downey Citizens for Quality Patient Care
Downey Citizens for Quality Patient Care is a community action group dedicated to keeping quality healthcare local for the citizens of Downey, California. For more information, visit our website at downey4patientcare.com, and sign the petition here.