Op-eds, Opinions

McDonald: Paxson’s promotion of Prospect Medical Holdings is irresponsible

By
Op-Ed Contributor
Friday, February 23, 2018

President Christina Paxson P’19 has been telling Rhode Islanders for weeks now that she wants the University to team up with Prospect Medical Holdings, Inc., a California-based for-profit, to acquire Care New England, a non-profit and the second largest health care system in Rhode Island. According to Paxson, “Prospect has a national reputation for operating quality, cost-efficient healthcare facilities.” We at the United Nurses & Allied Professionals think that Paxson has it wrong. When it comes to patient safety, Prospect has proven itself an unreliable and ineffective provider of health care, and Rhode Islanders deserve better.

Last spring, Prospect’s own consultants found that surgical instruments in the operating room at Our Lady of Fatima Hospital in North Providence — which is majority-owned and operated by Prospect — were contaminated with foreign material and otherwise worn, cracked or broken, thereby putting patients at risk. Prospect is now being investigated by the National Labor Relations Board, under the National Labor Relations Act, for refusing to make the consultant’s report public. Prospect is also being investigated by the NLRB for refusing to make information relating to additional deficiencies public.

On Dec. 27, 2017, the Providence Business News reported that here in Rhode Island, the federal government reduced the reimbursement rates at Our Lady of Fatima Hospital and Roger Williams Medical Center — also majority owned and operated by Prospect — for high patient injury and infection rates. Both hospitals finished in the bottom 25 percent of 3,306 hospitals surveyed across the country.

According to a 2016 article that ran in the Journal Inquirer, a Connecticut newspaper, the federal government had to shut down a Prospect surgical unit in California for eight days because of a widespread risk of patient infection. In addition, several of Prospect’s California hospitals were cited for inappropriately staffed intensive care units, improper storage of biohazardous waste, failure to appropriately store and administer patient medications, failure to ensure that medical staff were professionally qualified and catheterizations of patients without doctor’s orders.

Prospect’s failures do not end there. Prospect recently purchased a hospital system in Pennsylvania — Crozer-Keystone Health System. Under Pennsylvania law, Prospect was required to put the proceeds of the sale into a community foundation charged with the responsibility of providing health care-related services to local residents. When Prospect reneged on this obligation, the foundation took the matter to arbitration. Finding that Prospect was in the wrong, Prospect was ordered to make a payment of approximately $21 million to the foundation. Adding insult to injury, Prospect was late in making the court-ordered payment into escrow. Also in Pennsylvania, Prospect tax payment checks to three local school districts bounced to the tune of several million dollars.

Paxson is most certainly entitled to her own opinion, but she is not entitled to her own facts. Prospect does not have a national reputation for operating quality, cost-efficient health care facilities, and Brown University should not put its reputation and finances at risk by doing business with the likes of Prospect Medical Holdings.

Linda McDonald is a registered nurse and the president of United Nurses & Allied Professionals, a union that represents health care workers employed in Rhode Island, Vermont and Connecticut and advocates for high-quality patient care. UNAP represents over 600 health care workers employed at Our Lady of Fatima Hospital and is involved in a labor dispute with Prospect Medical Holdings. Please send responses to this opinion to letters@browndailyherald.com and other op-eds to opinions@browndailyherald.com.