Registered nurses with the California Nurses Association have filed an opposition with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court to prevent the proposed closure of St. Vincent Medical Center  in the Westlake District, saying the closure presents a grave public safety risk.

Nonprofit Verity Health System announced plans to close the hospital on Monday, saying it was unable to complete a sale of the facility.

"St. Vincent provides care to more than 80 patients a day in our emergency room," said Christine Chung, RN, citing statistics from California's Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development. "Many of these patients are in critical condition, where seconds can mean the difference between life and death. I fear that closing St. Vincent could lead to unnecessary and preventable deaths."

The nurses also say Verity is failing to follow state laws, including one that provide emergency medical services to give at least a 90-day notice to the public, as well as state and local governments, before reducing or eliminating services.

The bankruptcy court is scheduled to hold a hearing on Verity's emergency motion to close SVMC on Wednesday. A decision is expected by Thursday at the latest.

According to Verity, the system filed court papers seeking authority to close the medical center at 2131 W. Third St. Verity Health has been working through Chapter 11 bankruptcy and had hoped to transfer ownership of the hospital and three other medical centers.

"We are deeply saddened to announce the planned closure of St. Vincent Medical Center," said Rich Adcock, CEO of Verity Health. "This decision has not been taken lightly and comes only after exhausting every option to keep this hospital open. St. Vincent and its caregivers have had the distinct privilege of providing care to patients in this community. We appreciate both the opportunity to serve and the caregivers who have made a difference in ensuring that patients received the highest quality care. While we regret the closure of St. Vincent, we know that this community will continue to be well-served by nearby hospitals."

Verity's other three hospitals -- including St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood -- will remain open.

According to Verity, current patients at St. Vincent Medical Center will continue to receive care until they can be discharged or transferred to other hospitals. The hospitals transplant programs will be relocated to other facilities to ensure patients "will continue to receive high-quality care from their existing physicians."

Once a judge gives full authority for the facility's closure will be diverted to nearby emergency departments, according to the company.

That could have an impact on such facilities as the Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center and Hollywood Presbyterian in East Hollywood and Good Samaritan, which operates the closest emergency room to Echo Park. 

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