Bay Area/ San Jose/ Politics & Govt
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Published on May 28, 2024
East San Jose Leaders Rally for Attorney General's Intervention to Stop Medical Center's Service CutsSource: Google Street View

In a plea for medical equity, community advocates and local leaders are urging California Attorney General Rob Bonta to step in and prevent the shutdown of the Regional Medical Center's critical services in East San Jose, actions which may leave the area's most vulnerable residents—predominantly low-income and people of color—without nearby life-saving health care facilities. According to NBC Bay Area, a letter to Bonta, supported by community groups including Latinas Contra Cancer and Working Partnerships USA, calls the planned closure discriminatory, underscoring that the service reductions will harm communities struggling to access basic health care resources.

The impended shutdown of Regional's trauma and STEMI services, along with the downgrading of stroke care, scheduled for August 12, has elicited a harsh response with fears of increasing deaths and worsened medical outcomes for the county's working poor, Santa Clara County health officials and emergency response teams are bracing for an overflow of patients to Valley Medical Center, which may lead to detrimental ambulance slowdowns throughout the region, a situation described as dire by East San Jose Councilmember Peter Ortiz, who expressed confidence in the Attorney General's support to halt the service cuts in a statement obtained by The Mercury News.

Residents face potentially life-threatening delays as driving times to the nearest trauma center could soar by 30 to 45 minutes; Jessica Diangson, an East San Jose local and a single mother of two, relayed her deep concerns to NBC Bay Area, where she can't imagine being unable to reach the vital services needed in an emergency due to the facility's closure. HCA Healthcare, which owns Regional Medical Center, insists that the transformation is a response to community needs, announcing plans to beef up its Emergency Department—an expansion deemed as insufficient by critics who see it as a profit-driven maneuver ignoring the dire needs of a community heavily dependent on the center, as recounted in The Mercury News.

The fight against the looming closure has prompted parallels to similar circumstances in North Carolina, where the State Attorney General took legal action against HCA Healthcare; advocates in California cite this as a beacon of hope amidst their struggle for health care accessibility, according to interviews by NBC Bay Area, the experience of residents in San Jose has been marked by increasing jeopardy as service cuts continue, Regional's labor and delivery wing was already lost back in 2020, now the trauma center faces the same fate, residents, officials, and activists alike are clinging to the hope that the Attorney General will acknowledge the gravity of this closure and act to secure the health and livelihoods of this community at the brink.