Community reacts to investigation into Bon Secours drug program profits in Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Community leaders are calling for accountability, transparency and action following a recently published New York Times investigation entitled “Profit Over Patients” alleging corporate negligence at Richmond Community Hospital.

8News spoke with Ralph Hodge, a pastor at Second Baptist Church who said he questions the lack of progress Richmond Community Hospital has made over the years.

“You look at Saint Francis in Chesterfield and Memorial Regional in Hanover and look at their facilities and then you look at Richmond community,” Hodge said. “It’s African Americans who are once again getting the short end of the stick while other communities are receiving the benefits.”

State records show Richmond Community Hospital generated around $100 million a year in profits. According to the New York Times, it’s the highest profit margin of any hospital in Virginia, aided by their use of the federal 340B Drug Discount Program.

Community leaders are now saying they don’t see that money going where lawmakers intended for it to go — improving healthcare for the surrounding community.

“I mean, the idea that this hospital is the most profitable hospital in the state of Virginia and you’re not able to really impact people’s lives when they have a health crisis,” Hodge said. “There’s no getting around that idea that probably some lives were lost.”

Bon Secours refused 8News’ two requests for an interview but did release a statement saying they have invested $8 million in Richmond’s East End and $10 million in capital improvements to Richmond Community Hospital.

“Bon Secours is fully compliant with the federal 340B program and utilizes savings for community re-investment that aligns with the program’s regulations,” a spokesperson with Bon Secours said. “We have and will continue to provide accessible, affordable, high-quality care through this and other programs that improve the well-being of the greater Richmond community.”

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney called for a federal investigation into Bon Secours on Tuesday. Stoney said Bon Secours utilized “loopholes” in the 340B program, designed to reduce drug prices for low-income Americans, to “[increase] profit margins for the hospital system while they have reduced services in one of our predominantly Black communities.”

“They should be held accountable for distributing resources in that community, not just the veneer stuff, not just the surface level stuff, not the stuff that kind of looks good, but real resources into real people’s lives,” Hodge said.