The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors voted to approve $20 million in funding to keep Daly City's Seton Medical Center open amid the novel coronavirus outbreak.
The board voted 4-1 Tuesday, with Supervisor Dave Pine the lone dissenter, to allocate $5 million annually over the next four years to keep the hospital open and avoid creating a health care desert. Verity Health Systems, the hospital's owner, filed for bankruptcy in 2018 and had been planning to shutter the hospital as soon as this week.
The hospital is the largest employer in the city and serves about 27,000 people each year, many of whom are elderly or low-income. The closure would have forced Daly City residents to travel further for urgent medical care and made it harder to treat homeless residents as well as current and future coronavirus patients.
"If we do nothing today, there's a high probability that this hospital will close. That's the bottom line," Supervisor David Canepa said. "You can try to sugarcoat it however you want, you can try to justify it in your mind … but what's at stake here is the closure of this hospital."
The county will give the funding to the entity that buys the medical center from Verity Health, with conditions requiring that the facility remain fully functional and the new owner to submit operational reports to the county each year. Canepa also requested that half of the funding come from the Health Plan of San Mateo.
According to Canepa's office, KPC Health and AHMC Healthcare are the two companies currently bidding to purchase Seton in Daly City and Seton Coastside in Moss Beach.
To date, San Mateo County public health officials have confirmed nine cases of coronavirus among the county's residents.