Some services leaving Seton Medical Center 

click to enlarge Seton Medical in Daly City is discontinuing its labor and delivery department and will no longer offer pre-natal and postpartum services for Medi-Cal patients. - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy Photo
  • Seton Medical in Daly City is discontinuing its labor and delivery department and will no longer offer pre-natal and postpartum services for Medi-Cal patients.

Seton Medical Center is discontinuing some services at the end of this month, including its labor and delivery department. But a Seton spokeswoman says no additional closures are planned, and a Health Plan of San Mateo representative says the county will still be able to provide those services to Medi-Cal recipients at other facilities.

In addition to labor and delivery, Seton is eliminating neonatal intensive care and cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation services at its main campus.

Some services at other locations in Daly City are also being eliminated. The Seton New Life Center will no longer offer pre-natal and postpartum services for Medi-Cal patients, and is also eliminating its childbirth and parenting classes and nutrition counseling.

And the Outpatient Infusion Center's chemotherapy and treatments for patients with congestive heart failure are also being discontinued.

Seton is Daly City's largest employer, and part of the financially troubled Daughters of Charity Health System, a nonprofit family of six hospitals that also includes Seton Coaststide in Moss Beach, O'Connor Hospital in San Jose and St. Louise Regional Hospital in Gilroy.

A solution to the Daughters of Charity's financial woes appeared to have been reached when California Attorney General Kamala Harris granted conditional approval to Prime Health Care's proposed purchase of the health system. But Prime backed out of the deal in March, claiming Harris' requirements — including keeping the hospitals open for at least 10 years — were too burdensome.

Health Plan of San Mateo Chief Executive Officer Maya Altman said members needing childbirth or neonatal intensive care services could be sent to St. Luke's Hospital in San Francisco, along with other facilities in the California Pacific Medical Center organization, but she acknowledged that traveling to those San Francisco campuses could be difficult for some low-income Peninsula residents.

North East Medical Services, a nonprofit health care provider whose clinics include a Daly City location, could assume responsibility for the prenatal and postpartum services, as well as childbirth and parenting classes, Altman said.

Chemotherapy, cardiopulmonary rehabilitation and other services dropped by Seton can also be contracted out to other local providers, Altman said, noting the Peninsula is a "hospital rich" area.

Commenting on the service reductions at Seton, Altman said, "This wasn't the worst thing that could happen. It's not ideal, but we can deal with it fairly well."

Concerns about possible service reductions or department closures prompted Daly City Councilman David Canepa to urge Harris last year to review — and potentially veto — any proposed purchase of Seton and its parent organization, but those concerns eventually lead to his supporting the proposed sale to Prime.

Canepa said he was disappointed that some of the feared closures have become a reality. And if the Daughters of Charity can't find a buyer with the resources and willingness to keep Seton open, the councilman said he would ask the state of California and the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors to help keep Seton and its emergency room open.

But things at Seton aren't as dire as some in the community might believe, according to Seton spokeswoman Tina Ahn.

The recently announced service closures are a one-time-only thing, Ahn said, and should not be interpreted as a signal that more service cuts are on the horizon.

Ahn added that there are qualified buyers currently interested in purchasing the health system, and that her organization is "very pleased" with the level of interest they've shown.

"There will be no additional service closures," Ahn said, "We are open for business just like we have been for 105 years. We are still here and we are still open."

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