In June, Verdugo Hills Hospital’s board of directors voted to begin merger talks with USC’s Keck Medical Center. On Tuesday, they decided to make this decision public — a delay that hints at a disconnect the board and its administration seem to have with the public they serve.
It is no secret that Verdugo Hills, which has been an independent hospital for the last 40 years, has been looking to merge its operations. It is also no secret that at least one other area hospital, Glendale Adventist Medical Center, has been courting the 158-bed facility.
But the reasons behind this most recent decision, which likely will have wide-reaching consequences for patients, have so far been kept mostly opaque. Will service be better? Worse? Will people have to travel many miles for procedures now done locally?
The hospital has remained silent, leaving business leaders and medical professionals to read the tea leaves.
Though technically in Glendale, Verdugo Hills’ campus sits on the border of La Cañada Flintridge, and serves not only that city, but west into Montrose, La Crescenta and Tujunga. It’s a large and varied constituency, encompassing families who are beyond affluent to those below the poverty line.
The proposed merger with USC may very well be in the best interest of the patients, medical staff and the larger community. But the hospital itself needs to become more vocal, and assuage our collective, and creeping, anxiety.