RNs rally to demand HCA maintain life-saving trauma, stroke, and heart attack services at Regional Medical Center

Nurses: HCA’s scheduled closures in emergency care will cost lives

Registered nurses at HCA’s Regional Medical Center (Regional) in San Jose, Calif., will hold a rally on Wednesday, March 27, to demand that HCA maintain life-saving trauma, stroke, and heart attack services at the facility. HCA, the Nashville-based health care giant, announced earlier this year it intended to close the services in August.

“We know that closing down our trauma and stroke centers and eliminating services for those who are experiencing life-threatening heart attacks will cost lives,” said Martha Marrero, a registered nurse in the emergency department. “It’s obscene that someone sitting in Nashville, who works for a corporation making billions of dollars each year, is looking at a ledger and deciding that these vital services in my community should close. The nurses and the community are demanding that these services be maintained, because we know it could be any one of us, our patients, or our family members who could suffer the drastic or potentially fatal consequences of these proposed closures.”

What: Registered nurses rally to demand HCA maintain critical trauma, stroke, and heart attack services at Regional Medical Center
When: Wed., March 27, 3:30-5 p.m.
Where: HCA’s Regional Medical Center, 225 N. Jackson Ave., San Jose 

Regional is located at the convergence of three main Bay Area traffic arteries – Highways 101, 680, and 280 – and is easily accessible to people coming from surrounding communities. As a Level ll Trauma Center, the hospital’s health care professionals are able to provide life-saving care to a multitude of high-risk emergency patients who may need immediate interventions, including surgery by specialists or ICU-level care.  

Closures will cause delays in care leading to poor outcomes and, potentially, death.

Regional is one of two trauma centers in San Jose and receives patients from southern Santa Clara County, as well as San Benito and Santa Cruz Counties. Santa Clara Valley Medical Center (SCVMC) is about an eight mile drive from Regional. According to Google maps, this drive can take from 12 to 22 minutes depending on the time and traffic — vital time that patients could be receiving care, not traveling.

SCVMC is not equipped to handle a 65 percent surge in trauma patients. 

In 2019, Regional treated more than 2,400 trauma patients and SCVMC treated more than 3,700. If SCVMC had to absorb those patients, that would mean a 65 percent increase in trauma patients.

SCVMC has a record of ER diversion that is double that of Regional, while Regional treats a more critically ill patient population.

In 2022, SCVMC went on diversion (when ambulances are rerouted to other ERs due to overcrowding) an average of 443 hours a month, compared to Regional’s 186 hours a month. During this same year, Regional’s emergency room cared for more than 10,000 patients who were classified as facing symptoms of “high severity and pose an immediate significant threat to life or physiologic function.” All data concerning ER usage comes from California’s Department of Health Care Access and Information.

The closures will disproportionately hurt Latine populations in the region.

Data shows that more than 61 percent of patients treated in Regional’s emergency room identify as Latine. Santa Clara County public health officials have already determined that Latine community is facing significant health inequities in the county, both in access to insurance and primary care, and they note the Latine community “continue to face higher rates of obesity, diabetes, and COVID deaths than others.”

HCA is putting profits over patients.

HCA, the largest health system in the country, reported earning over $5.2 billion in profits in 2023. However, HCA regularly shuts down vital health services at its hospitals, prioritizing profit over the community’s need for treatment options or medical services. HCA co-founder and major shareholder Thomas Frist, Jr., currently clocks in at No. 58 on the Bloomberg list of the world’s richest people and at No. 32 on the Forbes list of the 400 richest Americans, with an estimated net worth of $26 to $29 billion.

Nurses are demanding that HCA prioritize the needs of the community and maintain these life-saving service lines.

“When someone has a stroke, suffers a heart attack, or is gravely injured in a car accident, seconds can mean the difference between life and death,” said Mary Jean Dimapasoc, a registered nurse in the medical-surgical unit. “We save lives because our doors are open when someone needs emergency care. It scares me and makes my heart sink to think about what will happen to those who need immediate care if these services are shuttered.” 

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