Health fair set amid talks to save hospital

San Mateo County Supervisor David Canepa (middle) and former San Francisco Supervisor John Avalos (right) lead bi-county group aimed at saving beleaguered Seton Medical Center. Photo courtesy Office of Supervisor Canepa.

DALY CITY, Calif. –  Health care demands the highest priority everywhere.  Access to health care is a privilege enjoyed by those who can afford it or qualify for public assistance.  It is a persistent problem for those earning barely enough for rent and food but whose income is deemed to exceed eligibility for government help.

Health care access is most challenging in the San Francisco Bay Area where the median income is famously among the highest in the nation and therefore so is the cost of living.

“Healthcare  access is critical to (promote) healthy communities.  In the United States last year there were 17 hospital bankruptcies in mostly poor rural and urban areas.  In fact, our own Seton Medical Center suffered the same fate,” Supervisor David Canepa, representative for District 5 spanning Daly City, Colma, Brisbane, parts of South San Francisco and San Bruno, told this writer Nov. 4.

Daly City is home to the highest concentration of Filipinos on the US mainland.

While Daly City residents wonder about the future of Seton Medical Center, the largest employer in the northernmost town in San Mateo County, lawmakers and stakeholders are pondering strategies for keeping the hospital in service after its relatively new owners Verity Health filed for bankruptcy in August.

“Our District 5 office convened the first Save Seton Hospital Working Group meeting comprised of officials from San Mateo and San Francisco counties,” announced Canepa.  “Although the purpose of the group is to save Seton, a contingency plan will also be developed to ensure Seton’s patients receive high-quality health care.”

FREE FLU SHOTS

Meanwhile Canepa’s office is holding the first “Healthy Living, Healthy Lives Health Fair” 11 am – 4 pm, Saturday, November 10 at Serramonte Shopping Center in Daly City.

About 50 exhibitors will provide information on resources that lead to a healthier community.

San Mateo County will administer free flu shots and blood pressure checks, confirmed Tony Bayudan, Canepa’s Chief of Staff.

Cardiologists will discuss “The Healthy Heart” and the National Kidney Foundation will test for diabetes and cholesterol.

The free fair’s theme, “Imagine, Believe, Achieve” sounds directed at efforts to preserve Seton Medical Center.

“The working group consists of health care administrators, labor and elected officials, doctors and Seton workers,” Canepa said of the Oct. 26 meeting  at the offices of Health Plan of San Mateo to determine “why Seton has struggled financially in recent years.”

SEISMIC ISSUES

Per Canepa, the hospital has faced seismic issues for which San Mateo County last year approved a $15 million contribution for upgrades.

“When the Board of Supervisors approved the $15 million contribution in December 2017, it was estimated that the total cost of seismic repairs on the campus would be about $65 million,” said Canepa, who served on the City Council of Daly City for 8 years.

Seton serves communities in north San Mateo County as well as southwest San Francisco County, majority of whom are of fixed or limited income.

“Up to 87 percent of Seton’s patients are either on Medicare and Medi-Cal,” Canepa shared in his November e-newsletter.  “Since Seton acts as a de-facto public hospital, the working group will study what payer mix might be appropriate to keep operations sustainable at Seton. The working group will also study the disparity in Medicare and Medi-Cal reimbursement rates compared to other private and public hospitals in the area. Seton had a $30 million operating deficit in 2017 (and) the working group will study to determine how to stem the hospital’s losses.”

Services continue as the “working group” weighs ideas “ensure the 1,500 workers continue to provide health care services to Seton’s thousands of patients.”

Canepa said the hospital in 2017 served 28,000 patients in the ER.

“Preventative health care is key and this is exactly the point of this health fair,” stressed Canepa.

For more information on the health fair, contact Tony Bayudan at (650) 363-4572.

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