The future for eight Bay Area medical clinics — six of which are based in San Jose — is uncertain following an announcement from Verity Health that 180 positions will be eliminated beginning next month.
The SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West announced Friday it will fight back by airing concerns at the El Camino Hospital Board of Directors on Wednesday. The workers will urge the board to protect their jobs if the bankrupt health system sells its facilities.
Verity Health announced the layoffs in a Jan. 25 letter to the union. The letter outlined the organization’s intentions to lay off employees in connection with its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing that occurred in August 2018.
The affected employees serve a variety of roles across the eight clinics previously owned and operated by the San Jose Medical Group, including medical record clerks, orthopedic technicians and patient service representatives.
The affected clinics include Good Samaritan Clinic, McKee Clinic, Willow Glen Clinic, O’Connor General Surgery and O’Connor Primary Care Clinic — all of which are based in San Jose. The El Segundo-based Verity Health recently sold two of its struggling hospitals, O’Connor and St. Louise Regional Hospital, to Santa Clara County, though Attorney General Xavier Becerra has sought to block the sale.
The Morgan Hill Medical Associates, Morgan Hill Pediatrics and Gilroy Primary Care could also be impacted.
Rena Schwartzberg, a lifelong San Jose resident and a San Jose Medical Group employee for nearly 30 years, says she’s fearful of the effects of layoffs on her fellow employees and patients the clinics serve.
“We have essentially been told nothing,” Schwartzberg said in an interview Friday. “There are 180 of us who will be losing our jobs.”
The letter indicated that layoffs would occur between March 31 and April 13.
In a Feb. 1 letter from Verity’s director of human resources, the employees were encouraged to re-apply for their positions with the El Camino Healthcare District which hints at a potential sale.
Verity Health representatives declined to discuss the organization’s plans Friday when reached by San José Spotlight.
Schwartzberg says she intends to apply to keep her job but added that the lack of information doesn’t bring her and her colleagues much peace of mind.
Schwartzberg has filled a number of roles during her three decades with the organization including working as a medical assistant and in patient referrals. She currently works as a patient services representative for the Good Samaritan Clinic in San Jose where she and her 93-year-old mother are also both patients.
Schwartzberg says her mother doesn’t drive much because of her age and the clinic’s location — within a mile of her home — is a convenience that would be sorely missed if the clinic closes.
Her mother isn’t the only patient Schwartzberg says she is worried about.
“You become attached to your patients and you want the best for them,” Schwartzberg said. “We pride ourselves on the care we give and we just don’t know what’s going to happen to (the patients).”
Schwartzberg and other union employees intend to voice their concern at an El Camino Hospital Board of Directors meeting, 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at 2500 Grant Rd., in Mountain View.
Contact Carina Woudenberg at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow @carinaew on Twitter.