Tenet Healthcare Corp., Santa Barbara, Calif., was defiant last month when California Attorney General Bill Lockyer sued to force the company to keep a Los Angeles-area hospital open.
After a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge last week halted Tenet's plans to shut 153-bed Daniel Freeman Marina Hospital, Marina del Rey, Calif., Tenet changed its attitude, if not its ultimate goal.
Tenet had planned to shut the money-losing hospital later this month and had already stopped admitting non-emergency patients. When Tenet purchased the hospital, along with 345-bed Daniel Freeman Memorial Hospital, Inglewood, Calif., last December for $55 million from Carondelet Health System, St. Louis, Tenet agreed to a series of conditions Lockyer placed on the deal.
"We believe, as we have all along, that we did honor the commitments, but obviously the judge has taken issue with what we did," Tenet spokesman Harry Anderson said. "We are now going to move expeditiously to comply with the judge's order."
Judge Dzintra Janavs ruled Tenet did not comply with a condition that required the company to consult with community groups and the Marina Hospital board before deciding to close the hospital. In her order, Janavs issued a preliminary injunction against closing the hospital and required Tenet to restart admissions of non-emergency patients.
Tenet must either persuade the judge that it is complying with the conditions or go to trial on the compliance question, Lockyer's office said.
Tenet doesn't intend to go to trial, but the company will reassess its plans as the case proceeds, Anderson said. When asked if Tenet still wants to close the hospital, Anderson said, "We've said all along that the hospital is not viable. That's still our opinion."
A group of community and union activists who have been trying to keep Marina Hospital open lauded the ruling. "The judge's order that the hospital must remain open and viable as a hospital should allow an opportunity for others who would want to run it as a hospital to step forward and do so," said Maura Kealey, healthcare coordinator in the Los Angeles office of the Service Employees International Union.