Apr 12, 2021
On March 31, corporate hospital chain Alecto closed down Olympia Medical Center, a 204-bed hospital that had served overwhelmingly working-class and poor patients in Los Angeles since 1947.
The announcement of the closure came on New Year’s Eve—at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in L.A., that is—and drew outrage and protests from the community. Never mind that the communities these hospital chains short-change are also communities where there is a dire need for hospitals. And it is also these working-class and rural communities where the pandemic has spread—and killed people—at a much higher rate than in wealthier communities. Olympia had 25,000 ER visits in 2019 alone.
Alecto received $27.5 million in COVID stimulus money and advanced Medicare payments for Olympia in 2020 and, obviously, has maneuvered to take the money and run.
UCLA Health, which bought the property that Olympia is on from Alecto for an undisclosed price, said it also had no plans to keep the hospital open. So no new or continued jobs for the 451 former workers already laid off.
In fact, Alecto’s own history shows that this company is not interested in providing health care. It is nothing but a private equity shark, posing as a “health care company.” Like it did with Olympia, Alecto buys up hospitals that are available (because they are not “profitable enough” to hospital chains), drains their resources with budget cuts and/or sells their assets in exchange for cash, and then closes them down. Within the last two years, Alecto closed three other hospitals besides Olympia—one in Ohio and two in West Virginia.
That’s how health care companies operate, one expert said. “Nobody can tell them [hospital owners] they have to stay open, in the same way that nobody can tell a restaurant downtown when it closes that it has to stay open.”
As if getting treatment for illness—including life-threatening illness—can be compared to the choice of having chicken or sausages for dinner! That is capitalism to its rotten core.