California Healthline Highlights Recent County Actions
Kern County will hire outside consultants to run Kern Medical Center for three to six months beginning in September while looking for a new CEO, county supervisors said Tuesday, the Bakersfield Californian reports.
Supervisors voted to hire three consulting firms to find a new CEO, manage the hospital while the search proceeds and study new control structures for the hospital.
The county for the second year is continuing its Medi-Cal funding reorganization and the medical center's finances currently are managed by a temporary chief financial officer. The current CEO will retiree in mid-September (Burger, Bakersfield Californian, 6/21).
About 1,500 Service Employees International Union members on Tuesday rallied at a Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors meeting to demand wage increases as the union opens contract talks this week, the Los Angeles Daily News reports. According to the union, more than three-quarters of SEIU employees earn less than $45,000 per year, and nearly 20% earn less than $30,000, qualifying them for public assistance programs.
Annelle Grajeda said low wages are preventing the county from attracting qualified workers, especially at the county Department of Health Services, where one in 10 nursing positions is vacant. Union officials said the county is paying contract nurses nearly double county nurses' salaries.
The union is seeking cost-of-living adjustments and additional steps in salary schedules. The union also is seeking increased health plan contributions and assistance for child and elder care (Anderson, Los Angeles Daily News, 6/21).
Orange County supervisors on Tuesday heard a proposal to account for an estimated $1.4 billion in unfunded liability for retirees' medical benefits through a trust, the Orange County Register reports. The Multiple Employer Trust would allow the county to comply with new federal accounting rules that require public agencies to disclose retirees' future medical costs, but the accounting method would not require the cost of the benefits to the county to be disclosed.
Supervisors said they will continue studying the issue throughout the year (Santana, Orange County Register, 6/21).
Seventy-two employees at Tuolumne General Hospital will be laid off or have their hours reduced under a plan approved by Tuolumne County supervisors on Tuesday, the Modesto Bee reports. The staff reductions are part of a plan to address a preliminary $150 million county budget for fiscal year 2006-2007.
Forty-nine employees will be offered positions with Texas-based PHNS. Beginning in July, PNHS will contract with the county to take over patient admitting and registration, billing and other medical records. The county will continue to operate the hospital's long-term care and psychiatric units and health clinics.
Supervisors hope the contract will increase revenue at the hospital by $1.2 million in the next fiscal year. The county will pay PHNS $3.12 million in the first year and will renegotiate the contract after medical acute-care services are closed at the hospital.
The county will use $6.2 million from the general fund to subsidize the hospital in 2006-2007 (Carlson, Modesto Bee, 6/21).