California Healthline Highlights Recent Hospital News
Alameda County Medical Center trustees on Tuesday voted to eliminate 110 jobs as part of a package of measures to address a projected budget deficit, the Oakland Tribune reports. Over 14 weeks, 78 ACMC directors, managers and physicians reviewed operations throughout the system to develop the recommendations, which are intended to help the system address an estimated $11.5 million budget deficit for the current fiscal year.
The review also recommended:
- Renegotiating 14 contracts with vendors;
- Increasing intensive care unit rates;
- Improving billing protocols for anesthesia services;
- Renegotiating a contract to provide care to juvenile hall inmates; and
- Providing chemotherapy on an outpatient basis rather than an inpatient basis to qualify for higher reimbursement rates from insurers.
KPBS' "KPBS News" on Wednesday examined the possible effects of a move to exclude Alvarado Hospital Medical Center in San Diego from participation in Medicare, Medicaid and other federal health care programs (Goldberg, "KPBS News," KPBS, 5/10).
HHS Office of Inspector General on Monday announced the move based on allegations that Alvarado paid illegal kickbacks to physicians, despite the failure of two federal juries to convict the hospital on criminal charges filed by U.S. Attorney Carol Lam in San Diego (California Healthline, 5/9).
Steve Escoboza, president and CEO of the Hospital Association of San Diego and Imperial Counties, said that Alvarado treats about 40% of all Medicare beneficiaries requiring hospitalization in east San Diego County and that Alvarado's emergency department treats one quarter of all county residents seeking emergency care ("KPBS News," KPBS, 5/10).
The complete transcript is available online. The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.
Kaiser Permanente on May 1 opened a new clinic in Oxnard and plans to open a clinic in Ventura in November, the Ventura County Star reports.
The majority of staff at the clinic is bilingual, and there are plans to hire additional staff members. Kaiser has 60,000 members in Ventura County (Mintz, Ventura County Star, 5/10).
Kaiser also plans to begin construction this year on an expansion of its Oakland medical campus, the East Bay Business Times reports. The first phase of the project is expected to cost $70 million
The campus plan, which will be phased in over 15 years, will integrate the cancer center, medical offices, hospital and parking. Kaiser officials expect patient volume at the campus to increase by 18% annually (Thomas, East Bay Business Times, 5/5).
Natividad Medical Center has saved $1.6 million as of April 25 through a series of cost reductions and rate increases, the Monterey County Herald reports. Hospital administrators are trying to save nearly $3 million in the first six months of the year to address a projected $18 million deficit.
Talks with Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital on a joint operation to improve Natividad's finances are expected to continue into June (Salinas, Monterey County Herald, 5/10).
The discovery in March of a potentially lethal fungus in the ventilation system at Scripps Memorial Hospital led to requests for the resignation of two hospital directors and a Department of Health Services investigation, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The fungus, aspergillus, can be lethal to people with weakened immune systems. Four years ago, an outbreak of the fungus at the hospital was linked to a death (Los Angeles Times, 5/7).
St. John's Pleasant Valley Hospital officials on May 4 announced that the short-term transitional care unit will stop accepting patients June 10 and close completely by June 30, the Ventura County Star reports.
Hospital officials cited "growing operational challenges and declining patient census" as reasons for closing the unit.
Officials said they are working with the county Department of Health Services to transfer any remaining patients to other skilled nursing facilities. Catholic Healthcare West owns and operates the facility (Hernandez, Ventura County Star, 5/9).
Doctors involved with the liver transplant program at the University of California-Irvine Medical Center can be questioned in detail in patients' civil lawsuits involving the hospital's liver transplant program, a Superior Court judge ruled May 4, the Orange County Register reports.
UCI lawyers had asked the judge to bar questions about doctors' communication with patients and organ-transplant officials in the lawsuits citing the risk of self-incrimination.
The first deposition is scheduled for May 24 and will be of Ralph Cygan, former CEO of the hospital. Questions likely will involve discussions and alleged misstatements about the program with officials at the United Network for Organ Sharing, who had proposed closing the program in 2004 (Bernhard, Orange County Register, 5/5).
The Valley Hospital District Board is considering whether to propose a bond measure worth more than $400 million to fund expansions and improvements at hospitals in Hemet and Menifee, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reports.
Hospital officials say they are considering the bond to accommodate a growing population and to ensure that hospitals comply with state seismic safety standards. The bond also would be used for new equipment at the hospitals and possibly expand a heart center in Hemet and the emergency department in Menifee.
Valley Health Systems CEO Jim Maki said the district board could decide on the bond next month, including when to hold an election (Atienza, Riverside Press-Enterprise, 5/10).