August 14, 2002
Hospital Ordered to Stay Open
Health: Judge cites pending trial for owner of the Freeman facility.
By CLAIRE LUNA, TIMES STAFF WRITER
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A judge Tuesday ordered Daniel Freeman Marina Hospital, which had been slated to close in two weeks, to remain open, pending trial on charges that its owner had violated commitments made when it bought the facility.
California Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer had requested the order, arguing that Tenet Healthcare Corp. had not provided sufficient evidence that it had solicited input from the public, elected officials and others before deciding to close the Marina del Rey facility.
Tenet also did not consult the hospital's governing board before deciding to close the hospital, which it bought in December, said Wendi Horwitz, deputy attorney general.
Tenet attorney Margie Lewis argued that, since her company announced the closing in May, employees have left for other jobs and staffing has dropped to unsafe levels, endangering public safety if the hospital is kept open.
Superior Court Judge Dzintra Janavs compared that argument to the plea of a man who kills his parents and then begs the court's mercy because he is an orphan.
"I find it very troublesome, what you are doing," Janavs said. "I don't have sympathy for you at all."
The hospital must restaff to appropriate levels so it can resume accepting nonemergency patients, Janavs said. It had been taking only emergency patients since May 30.
If Janavs finds that Tenet has complied with the conditions of the purchase, the closing will be allowed to proceed.
"We will comply with the judge's conditions and requirements as expeditiously as possible," said Tenet's spokesman, David Langness.
"We will not wait for a trial," Langness said.
A coalition of community and labor groups brought the matter to the attorney general's attention in June.