Adventist Health Hanford agrees to settlement over unlawful patient disclosures 

The hospital violated state law by providing information to law enforcement regarding two alleged drug-induced stillbirths.

Adventist Health Hanford has agreed to a settlement with the state to pay $10,000 in civil penalties to resolve violations that resulted in two women who lost their pregnancies and were incarcerated for murder. 

Attorney General Rob Bonta announced the settlement on Wednesday. 


Driving the news: Adora Perez suffered a stillbirth at Adventist Health Hanford in December 2017. 

  • Medical personnel at the hospital provided unauthorized medical information to law enforcement regarding Perez’s labor and alleged drug use. 
  • Perez eventually pleaded guilty to manslaughter after she tested positive for methamphetamine and spent nearly four years in prison before having her conviction overturned in March 2022. 
  • Seven of her previous nine children were born high on methamphetamine, according to CalMatters. 
  • The other case at Adventist Health Hanford involved Chelsea Becker, who suffered a stillbirth in September 2019. 
  • The hospital unlawfully disclosed her health information to law enforcement, and she was charged with murder for allegedly causing the death of her child through drug use. Her case was dismissed after she spent 16 months in jail. 
  • She had also been accused of using methamphetamine, which prosecutors said caused the stillbirth. 

The big picture: The California Department of Justice launched an investigation into Adventist Health Hanford, finding the hospital failed to protect the personal health information of Perez and Becker. 

  • Adventist Health Hanford has agreed to revise its training policies to clarify when personal health information can be disclosed to law enforcement. 
  • The hospital will also have a telephone and electronic submission hotline to allow personnel, patients and the public to anonymously report suspected unlawful disclosures. 

What they’re saying: “No woman should be penalized for the loss of her pregnancy,” Bonta said. “As we have said repeatedly, the wrongful imprisonments of both women due to unauthorized health disclosures to law enforcement were unlawful. That’s why today’s settlement ensures that Adventist’s patients’ personal health information is handled with the utmost care and in compliance with the law, which will restore and enhance patient confidence.”

The other side: Adventist Health Hanford released a statement saying that no employee was found to have made any illegal disclosure of medical information, and the hospital’s policies and procedures for safeguarding patient information were found to be sufficient.

  • The hospital called the settlement a “nominal amount” and was made in a desire to move beyond the ongoing litigation.
  • Adventist Health Hanford said it is required by law to report specific information to law enforcement.
  • “Adventist Health is committed to inspiring health, wholeness and hope,” said Heather Van Housen, Adventist Health Central California Patient Care Executive. “We are committed to taking care of mothers and babies.”
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