California Healthline Highlights Recent Hospital News
Alta Bates Summit Medical Center won full accreditation from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations after inspections on Monday and Tuesday, the Oakland Tribune reports. The accreditation is in effect through 2007.
The medical center in August 2005 received a conditional accreditation, indicating that the certification could be lost based on future inspection findings. In November 2004, JCAHO issued a preliminary denial of accreditation to Alta Bates (Vesely, Oakland Tribune, 6/29).
The United Network for Organ Sharing, which oversees the nation's organ transplant system, approved a plan by St. Vincent Medical Center to address problems in its liver transplant program but retained sanctions against the hospital, the Los Angeles Times reports. The hospital shuttered its liver program last year after admitting it had improperly performed a liver transplant.
UNOS officials said they were satisfied with the hospital's plan to increase staffing, improve oversight and restore accountability within the hospital but would wait to remove sanctions until hospital officials prove their commitment to improving the program.
St. Vincent spokesperson Paul Silva said the hospital will abandon plans to file a lawsuit opposing the sanctions because it "does not seem productive" at this point. UNOS announced the sanctions in March (Ornstein, Los Angeles Times, 6/30).
An attorney representing 400 doctors at Alvarado Hospital said state law authorizes the doctors to be involved in selecting a buyer for the hospital after Tenet Healthcare was ordered to sell the facility last month, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
The U.S. Office of Inspector General ordered Tenet to sell the hospital by February, or federal funding to Alvarado would be stopped. Federal officials have accused Alvarado executives of making illegal payments to doctors for patient referrals. Tenet denies the accusations.
The attorney and physicians said a state law that requires doctors to protect quality and access to Alvarado's health care permits them to participate in the selection process.
Tenet spokesperson Steve Campinini said the hospital chain views negotiations as confidential and will inform doctors of its decision "at an appropriate time."
Tenet is reviewing more than 30 offers from potential bidders. Doctors are concerned that the hospital could be sold to a buyer who would not maintain hospital services or who has a poor reputation for providing health care services (Clark, San Diego Union-Tribune, 6/24).
Doctors Medical Center registered nurses on Tuesday and Wednesday voted 400-263 to affiliate with the California Nurses Association, the Modesto Bee reports.
CNA regional organizer Bonnie Castillo said the union would begin negotiating a contract with DMC after the vote is certified.
Catherine Larsen, a DMC spokesperson, said hospital officials would not challenge the election results.
After the vote is certified, CNA will represent nearly 3,000 registered nurses at seven Tenet Healthcare-owned hospitals in California (Carlson, Modesto Bee, 6/30).
Community Medical Centers is offering doctors who invested in Fresno Heart Hospital $2,100 for each $10,000 share they own, as Community continues its buyout of the specialty hospital, the Fresno Bee reports. The health care system said the offered payout is based on a market appraisal.
In a letter to physician-investors, Fresno Heart CEO Carolyn Webster wrote that the hospital has a $109 million deficit and faces default on construction bonds at the end of August. Community could cancel the bond debt once it becomes the sole owner of the hospital because it owns the bonds.
Some doctors questioned the deal, saying they believe the shares are worth more because the heart hospital's finances recently have improved.
Doctors also can wait until 2020 to sell their shares, exchange their shares for interest in real estate near the hospital or pay $148,000 per share to remain investors (Correa, Fresno Bee, 6/25).
Monterey County Supervisors on Tuesday approved a $10 million transfer to Natividad Medical Center and approved a new round of talks with two area hospitals to discuss a financial agreement to reduce Natividad's substantial deficit, the Monterey County Herald reports. The county has earmarked $12 million for the hospital next year.
An increase in treating uninsured patients and a decrease in federal and state subsidies for providing care to low-income patients have contributed to a $22 million deficit at Natividad this year. County officials have abandoned a plan to create a new hospital administration that would have been mostly operated by Salinas Valley Medical Center because it was found to be too difficult to merge the two hospital systems.
Donald Pompan, speaking on behalf of the Monterey County Medical Society, said the society wants the county to restructure Natividad's management system and find reliable funding for the hospital (Mel, Monterey County Herald, 6/28).
The University of California-Davis Health System and Catholic Healthcare West, which operates Mercy hospitals, will co-lease a new outpatient facility in Rocklin, the Sacramento Bee reports. The Placer County Center for Health is expected to be completed in 2008.
Physicans and staff of UC-Davis and Mercy hospitals will share access to laboratory, pharmacy and imaging services. The cost of the planned center was not disclosed.
The center is intended to address population growth in the area (Ortiz, Sacramento Bee, 6/28).
Rady Children's Hospital administrators and union officials have not reached a contract agreement for about 700 service workers, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports (Darcé, San Diego Union-Tribune, 6/30). Officials had hoped an agreement would be reached before the new fiscal year, which begins Saturday (Darcé, San Diego Union-Tribune, 6/28).
Contract negotiations stopped after union leaders and hospital administrators reached an impasse over worker representation. Union leader have suggested that workers be represented by United Healthcare Workers, a larger affiliate of the Service Employees International Union. Hospital administrators denied the request, according to hospital CEO Blair Sadler, who retires on Friday (San Diego Union-Tribune, 6/30).
The two-year contract dispute also involves demands for better wages, benefits and job security. Union members say they are among the lowest-paid workers compared with their counterparts at other area hospitals, but hospital officials disagree (San Diego Union-Tribune, 6/28).
Union leaders said they would file notice on Friday with federal labor regulators stating that they will establish an information picket outside the hospital (San Diego Union-Tribune, 6/30).
In other news, the hospital was renamed Rady Children's Hospital after it accepted a $60 million donation from Ernest Rady, who is involved in the auto financing business (Los Angeles Times, 6/30). The donation will help pay for a $350 million building to house a surgical center, neonatal intensive care center, cancer center, meeting space and 84 patient beds (Darcé/Clark, San Diego Union-Tribune, 6/30).
Nurses have filed 58 complaints since January against Nashville-based HCA Healthcare, which owns Riverside Community Hospital and West Hills Medical Center, alleging that unsafe conditions at the hospitals place patients in danger, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reports.
Union leaders allege HCA violates state-mandated nurse-to-patient ratios and requires nurses to work overtime. HCA denies the charges.
Thea Lavin -- a spokesperson for Service Employees International Union, United Healthcare Workers-West -- said nurses plan to file a complaint with JCAHO to bring attention to the allegations.
Community Hospital officials say the accusations are a tactic the nurses are using to pressure management into a contract agreement, as the current contract expires Friday.
Nurses at Community could take a strike vote in coming weeks if a contract agreement cannot be reached, Union President Sal Rosselli said (Mendez/Tse, Riverside Press-Enterprise, 6/29).
The Diagnostic Breast Center at Saint Agnes Medical Center is expected to open this fall and will be the first step in converting the hospital to an all-digital system, the Fresno Bee reports.
The $1.3 million diagnostic center will feature state-of-the-art technology and procedures for breast cancer diagnosis and intervention. The medical center is converting to a digital system for storing diagnostic images and data to allow for quicker diagnoses and smoother information transfers, according to hospital spokesperson Kelley Sanchez (St. John, Fresno Bee, 6/28).