By Emilie St. John
INGLEWOOD — Centinela Hospital quietly announced it was closing its maternal health services effective Oct. 25.
The hospital posted the announcement on its website July 25, which was two weeks before the hospital was fined $75,000 after being faulted for “deficient practices” that led to a patient dying while admitted there for labor and delivery in January.
“Centinela Hospital Medical Center has had the privilege of delivering tens of thousands of babies to Inglewood families, and the decision to close our program means we will redirect resources to where there is a greater community need,” the hospital’s statement said.
“The demand for maternal health services at our hospital is not what it once was and this leads us to focus on growing other essential services based on community needs. Serving the health care needs of our patients today and into the future, remains our top priority. Our community depends on us, and we will continue to invest in services that are most critically needed.”
On Jan. 10, April Valentine died during childbirth after complaining for hours about not having any feeling in her legs. Valentine died after delivering her daughter Aniya.
The following week, nearly 200 friends, family and members of the community gathered on the steps of the hospital to demand justice for Valentine.
“Aniya is going to have to grow up without her mother,” said Mykesha Mack, Valentine’s cousin. “She was supposed to come out of that hospital with her baby and didn’t. I had just spoken to and prayed for her to have a safe and healthy baby, I didn’t think I would lose her. She always wanted to be a mom and was so excited to raise her baby. My heart is so broken.”
Statistics show that Black women are four to six times more likely to die from childbirth in California than white women and members of the community showed up to support bringing more awareness to the fact this continues to happen.
“I’m hearing about this injustice to Black women and its despicable it’s continuing to happen in 2023,” said Gloria J. Davis, with the Girls Club of Los Angeles. “It just goes to show doctors are not listening to Black women when they say they are in pain.”
The hospital became the subject of federal scrutiny after federal regulators found the hospital violated federal requirements that jeopardized patients.
Investigators found the hospital “failed to properly assess and treat birthing patients to reduce the risk of blood clots,” according to a state review.
“Centinela Hospital was faulted for nurses failing to tell a doctor when a patient in labor had concerning readings for their own vital signs or that of the fetus, as well as not following up when the patient complained of ‘leg heaviness.’”
The violations had “a potential to result in harm due to delayed treatment,” the team concluded.
The hospital listed obstetrics, labor and delivery, newborn nursery and neonatol intensive care units would be eliminated, which will impact 72 employees.
“Staff will be offered positions to remain with Centinela Hospital, and other Prime Healthcare facilities,” the hospital said in its announcement.
Patients are being referred to Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital in Willowbrook, Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center in Torrance and St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood for comparable services.
Emilie St. John is a freelance journalist covering the areas of Carson, Compton, Inglewood and Willowbrook. Send tips to her at email@example.com.