Antelope Valley Hospital Files Lawsuit To Stop High Desert Hospital Conversion
As expected, not-for-profit Antelope Valley Hospital on Monday filed a federal lawsuit to stop Los Angeles County from closing inpatient services at High Desert Hospital in Lancaster, the Los Angeles Times reports. County officials plan to covert High Desert into an outpatient clinic by June 30, which would save a projected $10 million a year (Los Angeles Times, 6/3). However, critics of the conversion say it would reduce options for the county's low-income and uninsured patients. According to Abdallah Farrukh, chair of the Antelope Valley Hospital board, which approved the lawsuit last month, the High Desert conversion would increase the number of patients at Antelope Valley and Lancaster Community hospitals -- the two remaining inpatient facilities in the area -- potentially forcing Antelope Valley to cut staff and services to remain viable (California Healthline, 5/22).
In related news, the county Board of Supervisors yesterday voted 3-2 to reject a plan to keep inpatient services at High Desert Hospital by leasing beds to a not-for-profit foundation and letting a private physician group manage the hospital, the Los Angeles Times reports (Fausset, Los Angeles Times, 6/4). Under the plan, about 25 doctors would have paid up to $2 million to keep the inpatient ward open during a six-month transition period while the hospital was converted to a public-private facility, the Long Beach Press-Telegram reports (Bostwick, Long Beach Press-Telegram, 6/2). However, an analysis of the plan, released Monday by Dr. Thomas Garthwaite, director of the county Department of Health Services, noted that the plan would require the county to pay $6.7 million during the transition period. In addition, the analysis raised concerns about the long-term viability of the plan and said the plan would not sufficiently serve indigent patients, which historically has been High Desert's goal, the Times reports. Supervisor Michael Antonovich, who represents the area, called the vote "a really short-sighted move" because the county could have to reconsider such a plan if Antelope Valley Hospital wins its lawsuit to stop the conversion (Los Angeles Times, 6/4).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.