California Healthline Highlights Recent Hospital News
Assembly member Nicole Parra (D-Bakersfield) has proposed converting Coalinga State Hospital into a methamphetamine treatment facility, the Fresno Bee reports.
The facility was designed to house 1,500 mentally ill patients, mostly high-risk sexual offenders, but as of this week, 370 patients are living at the facility, according to the Department of Mental Health.
Parra said she believes the hospital will not be able to find enough staff to bring the hospital to full capacity and, therefore, would be wasting tax-payer money.
Officials from the administration of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) will tour the facility with Parra and other local officials on Friday.
DMH spokesperson Kirsten Macintyre said converting the facility likely would be too costly, adding that the hospital is expected to reach capacity by 2010 (Schultz, Fresno Bee, 9/15).
California Nurses Association representatives and Service Employees International Union members asked the state to take control of Doctors Medical Center in San Pablo one day after the West Contra Costa Healthcare District board voted to file for bankruptcy and cut some services, the Contra Costa Times reports (Fischer/Lochner, Contra Costa Times, 9/15).
The hospital, which lost $1.5 million in July, likely will file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy in the next seven to 10 days, according to attorney Andrea Porter. The board also voted to close the hospital's obstetrics department, the Pinole campus and the substance abuse treatment center.
The board deadlocked on a proposal to convert the emergency department into an urgent care unit (Lochner, Contra Costa Times, 9/14). Some board members said they are concerned that leaving the ED open would force the hospital to close because of financial strain.
Hospital CEO Irwin Hansen said ambulances would continue to be diverted to other area hospitals. He added that he will continue to take steps to reduce emergency and other services at the facility (Johnson, San Francisco Chronicle, 9/14). Most ambulances are being diverted to Kaiser Permanente's Richmond ED (Lochner, Contra Costa Times, 9/14).
Earlier in the week, Hansen met with state and federal lawmakers, as well as local health officials, to discuss the hospital's poor financial situation (Lochner, Contra Costa Times, 9/12). On Monday, Hansen asked hospital managers to reduce payrolls by 12.5%, saying that the hospital might not be able to pay employees at the end of the next pay period unless costs are reduced (Lochner, Contra Costa Times, 9/11).
Sixty-four percent of registered nurses who work at Rideout Memorial Hospital and Fremont Medical Center voted to join the California Nurses Association, the Marysville Appeal-Democrat reports. Ninety-two percent of nurses at the hospitals cast ballots in the election, which ended Sept. 7.
Nurses at the hospitals said they wanted better pay and retirement benefits, and more of a voice in patient care issues.
The union vote did not pass at Fremont-Rideout's Feather River Surgery Center and Cancer Center. Nurses at the group's Gridley-Biggs Memorial Hospital did not participate in the election (Young, Appeal-Democrat, 9/9).
Union workers at Riverside Community Hospital will receive wage increases of about 40% over the next 3 1/2 years under a tentative contract agreement reached last weekend, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reports.
The tentative contract between the Service Employees International Union United Healthcare Workers-West and HCA also would prohibit mandatory overtime and allow workers to strike if a dispute over staffing levels cannot be resolved, according to Dana Simon, administrative vice president of the union.
Workers are scheduled to vote on the proposed contract Friday (Quan, Riverside Press-Enterprise, 9/12).
The University of California-San Diego Medical Center's plan to move acute-care services from its Hillcrest hospital to its La Jolla campus by 2025 will not significantly affect health care access for the county's low-income residents, according to an amended report released Sept. 8, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
Abaris Group, which conducted the county-commissioned report, found that "UCSD Medical Center plans to and will have the capacity to manage all current inpatients" at its Thorton Hospital in La Jolla.
However, a small number of patients -- particularly those in the central and southern regions of San Diego County -- "will choose to or be unable to be admitted to [Thornton]. For these patients and their family members, the move of inpatient beds will be an inconvenience and will create some access issues," the report found.
Officials at Scripps Mercy hospitals in Hillcrest and Chula Vista criticized the report, saying that they are concerned the closure of acute services at UCSD's Hillcrest hospital could increase the number of uninsured patients who seek treatment from Scripps.
Scripps officials also maintain that the UCSD plan is illegal under state law, which prohibits the operation of a free-standing emergency department (Clark, San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/9).
Ballots for Measure I, a $485 million bond measure for Valley Health System, are due to the Riverside County Registrar of Voters Office by Tuesday, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reports.
The measure would increase health district residents' property tax by $17.99 per $100,000 of assessed property valuation to refinance old debt and renovate and expand Hemet Valley Medical Center and Menifee Valley Community Hospital in Sun City.
Physicians supporting the measure have spent $486,804 as of Sept. 2 urging voters to approve the bond, while a hospital employee union has spent $55,285 opposing the measure. The initiative needs two-thirds approval to pass (Atienza, Riverside Press-Enterprise, 9/14).