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Public Citizen Urges Virginia Hospitals to Sever Ties with HealthFair Over Unethical Cardiovascular Disease Screening Packages

Oct. 7, 2014

Public Citizen Urges Virginia Hospitals to Sever Ties with HealthFair Over Unethical Cardiovascular Disease Screening Packages

Hospitals Throughout the Country Are Severing Ties With Company; HealthFair Cardiovascular Screening Packages Are Misleading, Do More Harm Than Good

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Public Citizen today urged Bon Secours Virginia – a health care system based in Richmond, Va. – to sever its relationships with HealthFair because the company’s heavily promoted, community-wide cardiovascular health screening programs are unethical and are much more likely to do harm than good.

Bon Secours Virginia has nearly a dozen hospitals and outpatient care facilities in the Richmond and Hampton Roads-Norfolk areas. It partners with HealthFair, which peddles inexpensive cardiovascular disease screening packages to people living near the hospitals and institutions for whom the screening is medically inappropriate. HealthFair relies on advertising materials that make unsubstantiated claims about the medical benefits of its screening packages and omit information about the risks of adverse health-related outcomes and financial harms that may result from the screenings.

The screening tests are performed in buses, often bearing the names and logos of both HealthFair and the partner hospital or medical institution. The hospitals and health care organizations benefit from the referrals for follow-up testing when abnormal results are found by HealthFair’s screening programs.

Urging Bon Secours Virginia to sever its relationship with HealthFair is part of Public Citizen’s ongoing campaign to encourage hospitals across the country to break their ties with the company.

On June 19, Public Citizen wrote letters to 20 other hospitals and medical institutions that had partnered with HealthFair urging them to immediately terminate their sponsorship of, and affiliation with, HealthFair. Since then, 15 of the 20 hospitals and medical institutions have either informed Public Citizen or indicated to the media that they have terminated or will be terminating their relationships with HealthFair.

“We applaud those hospitals that have made the right choice to sever their relationships with HealthFair,” said Carome. “Hospitals that promote HealthFair’s screening programs do a great disservice to the communities that they serve and to public health more broadly. We hope Bon Secours Virginia will follow suit and act quickly to end its contract.”

The Virginia hospitals, outpatient and home care services Bon Secours Virginia runs includes: Bon Secours HealthSource (Richmond); St. Mary’s Hospital (Richmond); Memorial Regional Medical Center (Mechanicsville); Richmond Community Hospital (Richmond); St. Francis Medical Center (Midlothian); St. Mary’s Reynolds Crossing (Richmond); Bon Secours DePaul Medical Center (Norfolk); Bon Secours Health Center at Harbour View (Suffolk); Bon Secours Health Center at Virginia Beach (Virginia Beach); Mary Immaculate Hospital (Newport News); Maryview Medical Center (Portsmouth).

Read the letter to Bon Secours Virginia.

View our prior work related to HealthFair.