Inglewood hospital fined $75,000 for failures that led to maternal death

By Emily Alpert Reyes, Staff Writer
August 7, 2023
California regulators have fined Centinela Hospital Medical Center $75,000 after faulting the Inglewood hospital for “deficient practices” that led to a patient dying while admitted there for labor and delivery.
The California Department of Public Health found the hospital failed to ensure the patient was properly assessed and treated to prevent blood clots, did not follow up appropriately on her complaints about leg heaviness, and failed to alert her physician when her vital signs had veered out of normal parameters, among other lapses.
The state agency did not name the patient who died as a result of those failures, but its report lays out a string of events leading to a female patient dying on Jan. 10 — the same day that a 31-year-old woman named April Valentine died at the Inglewood hospital.
The death of Valentine, who left behind bereft friends and family, a grieving boyfriend and a newborn daughter named Aniya, spurred a public outcry and calls for investigation. In California and across the country, Black women like Valentine have been at disproportionate risk of dying of pregnancy complications.
“The findings of the Department of Public Health clearly show that Centinela’s gross negligence led to the tragic death of April Valentine during her labor and delivery,” said attorney Andrew J. Marton, who is representing Aniya and her father, Nigha Robertson, who was Valentine’s boyfriend.
The $75,000 fine will not bring them justice, Marton said, “but it is a step in the right direction as we must hold Centinela accountable and ensure that such preventable tragedies never happen again.”
Centinela Hospital Medical Center in Inglewood, Calif., is seen Thursday morning, Oct. 18, 2012. A jail inmate suspected of drug use was shot to death in the hospital’s emergency room after he grabbed a gun from a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy, authorities said. The 27-year-old man was pronounced dead at the scene shortly after 1 a.m. Thursday, sheriff’s officials said. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
Centinela Hospital is part of the Prime Healthcare system, which said in a statement that it is “in continual pursuit of ensuring the highest quality of care and forwarding health equity for all patients and our community” and cited recent accolades for the Inglewood hospital.
The healthcare system did not comment directly on the fine, but Prime Healthcare’s vice president of communications and public relations, Elizabeth Nikels, said in an email, “We continue to express our deepest condolences to the family of Ms. Valentine.”
Roughly two weeks after Valentine died, the California Department of Public Health made an unannounced visit to the Inglewood hospital to investigate a complaint alleging “inadequate care” led to the death of a patient who was admitted there for labor, according to its report.