Hearing On Sale Of Victor Valley Community Hospital Shows Most Are In Favor Of Desert Valley Takeover

By Nikki Garrett Metzger

High Desert Daily

(Victorville) -– The Victorville City Council Chambers were packed Wednesday afternoon as many community leaders, business owners, medical professionals, and community members showed up to voice their opinions at a hearing on the sale of Victor Valley Hospital to Prime Healthcare Services Foundation.

Deputy Attorney General Wendi Horwitz listened to testimony for a little over 5 hours. Opinions were mostly in favor of the sale. The primary reasons for approval of the sale from those that spoke were echoed in a statement from Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt, read by Dawn Sikes, District Director, “Closure of the hospital would cause severe economic impact to the area. 400 people would be out of work, vendors would be affected, and other area hospitals would have to take on the burden of the additional people who needed care.”

Prime Healthcare Services Foundation was founded by Dr. Prem Reddy, and he is the current chairman of the board.

Joe Range, Vice President of the Board of Trustees for Victor Valley College, said, “The nursing program at VVC graduates 40-60 students each year. The graduates need a place to work, they need the training they can get in the hospital setting. Dr. Reddy donates equipment that these students use to learn their skills. The hospital needs to stay open because people need a place to go.”

Those that spoke in favor of the sale mentioned the success for the other hospitals that Prime Healthcare Services Foundation had acquired and how things had turned around for them. Many sited the fact the Dr. Prem Reddy is local to the High Desert, and that his foundation has donated to many local charities.

Val Christensen has known Dr. Reddy and his family for many years. He is also President of the Victor Valley College Foundation. He said, “I’ve been here since 1962 and I’ve known Prem Reddy for a long time. In his heart he cares about people. He doesn’t serve the community for a profit. Dr. Reddy lives in the community, employs members of this community, donates to the community, and contributes to the community.”

Martha Brodie, a 27 year resident of the Victor Valley and Director of Business Development for Home Instead Senior Care, summed it up, “We want the sale of the hospital to go through. It is time to put that hospital back together for the people who need it. Sell it, rebuild it, and we want it to be over.”

There were those at the hearing who spoke against the sale specifically to Prime Healthcare Services. The points made by those that were opposed included a supposed lack of competition in the Valley if PHS took over Victor Valley Community Hospital. Some  alleged that contracts with HMOs would not be extended if PHS purchases the hospital.

Blair Bryson, administrator for Choice Medical Group, explained, “We have already been contacted by HMOs, and they are asking us where they will send their members after the sale. The answer is that their members will have to do down the Cajon Pass for treatment, and their dollars and services will go with them,” he stated.

Peter Mort spoke at the hearing and made a point that others felt was important, “The lack of competition has not been addressed in the Victor Valley Community Hospital’s Health Care Impact Report.”

Brain Johnson is a teacher in the community. He and his wife came to voice their opinion. “Prime Healthcare Services has a history of cutting contracts with HMOs once they take over a hospital. It iis very important that we keep the hospital open in the wisest way. I came here to represent my family and guarantee that everyone has coverage.”

No decision was made at this hearing. A decision from the Attorney General’s office should be made by the end of the month.

Prime Healthcare CEO Lex Reddy declined to give a prediction on the pending decision and said he respected everyone’s opinion. “We just want to be respectful to the process,” he told High Desert Daily.

For more information visit http://ag.ca.gov/charities/nonprofithosp.php

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