Alameda County Medical Center Retains Consulting Firm To Implement Turnaround Plan
Alameda County Medical Center on Friday hired Tennessee-based consulting firm Cambio Health Solutions to develop and implement a plan to reduce the hospital network's estimated $71 million budget deficit, the Oakland Tribune reports (Vesely, Oakland Tribune, 2/8). Last month, ACMC, a network of three public hospitals and three clinics, originally hired Cambio consultants for a two-week contract to interview staff members and review $23 million in proposed budget cuts that are part of its 2004 budget plan (California Healthline, 1/29). ACMC now has retained Cambio for an 18-month, $3.2 million contract, which is expected to be finalized within days. As part of the contract, 10 consultants will work at ACMC fulltime, and a chief implementation officer will report to ACMC's board of trustees. Changes that the firm may recommend include management restructuring and service cuts to patients. Interim ACMC CEO Efton Hall said in a statement, "Cambio was hired not just to study the Alameda County Medical Center but is charged with implementing actions necessary to right-size the medical center so it can continue to fulfill its mission."
Meanwhile, problems at ACMC's hospitals continue, with federal investigators announcing on Wednesday that John George Psychiatric Pavilion is noncompliant in four of seven areas; the facility must now develop a comprehensive plan of correction in those areas within two weeks. On Tuesday, representatives for three unions representing health care workers at ACMC voted to ask their members to support a vote of no confidence in management at the network, in part citing, the "outrageous cost to taxpayers" of hiring a consulting firm to turn around a public hospital. Bradley Cleveland, a spokesperson for SEIU Local 616, said hiring consultants is inadequate and will not address ACMC's problems. "Clearly we need a permanent, experienced management team in the long run," he said (Vesely, Oakland Tribune, 2/8). In addition, at a county Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday, Hall said that Cambio would not complete plans for layoffs and service cuts at ACMC until mid-March, after county residents vote on Measure A, which would raise the county sales tax rate to provide funds to county health facilities, the Contra Costa Times reports (Ashley, Contra Costa Times, 2/11).
The lack of involvement by the county Board of Supervisors in ACMC has "eroded" public and employee confidence and led to "questionable deaths" and deficiencies at John George, a Tribune editorial states. The role that ACMC's hospitals and clinics play in Alameda County is "crucial to public health," the editorial continues, adding that ACMC's services and the people who provide them "make it necessary to support" Measure A. "We can't afford to let the medical center fail," the editorial concludes (Oakland Tribune, 2/8).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.