California Healthline Highlights Recent Hospital News
California Pacific Medical Center on Thursday broke ground on a new outdoor terrain park that will be used for rehabilitating patients recovering from strokes, orthopedic surgeries and muscular diseases, the San Francisco Examiner reports. The park will be one of only three such settings in the country, according to the Examiner.
The rehabilitation center is part of a new hospital that will specialize in the treatment of debilitating muscular diseases like multiple sclerosis. CPMC officials are still waiting for final approval on the rehabilitation wing from the San Francisco Planning Commission and Building Department (Farooq, San Francisco Examiner, 8/18).
In related news, CPMC employees on Monday accused the hospital of violating a labor agreement by trying to prevent the recruitment of new union members, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Workers also accused managers of retaliating against labor organizers.
The agreement, reached after a two-month strike last year, increased worker pay by 16% over four years and allows managers to present their views on unionization to employees.
CPMC officials were not present at the committee meeting. The hearing is scheduled to continue on Sept. 11 (Goodyear, San Francisco Chronicle, 8/15).
The Peninsula Hospital Guardians, a not-for-profit watchdog group formed in response to a ballot measure that would fund a new Peninsula Medical Center, announced Wednesday that it will pursue a lawsuit that seeks to invalidate the measure, the San Francisco Examiner reports.
The group claims that Measure V does not give the hospital district enough control and that state law permits leases of 30 years, rather than the 50-year lease the measure would authorize. PHG also is suing the county elections office because the group said election materials do not fully explain the measure (Ramroop, San Francisco Examiner, 8/18).
However, the Oakland Tribune reports that most Peninsula Health Care District residents "seem supportive" of the ballot measure. Mills-Peninsula decided to build a new hospital rather than perform a seismic retrofit of the current facility.
Ballots must be received by San Mateo County officials by Aug. 29. If approved, Mills-Peninsula plans to open the new 243-bed hospital in 2010. The lease calls for Mills-Peninsula to pay $1.5 million in rent annually (Kinney, Oakland Tribune, 8/12).
Prime Health Care will purchase Huntington Beach Hospital, West Anaheim Medical Center and La Palma Intercommunity Hospital from the Tennessee-based Vanguard Health Systems, the Orange County Register reports.
Prime Health Chair Prem Reddy said the deal should close in late September once regulatory requirements are met. Reddy would not disclose the price of the hospitals, but said he is confident he can improve the facilities' financial situations.
Reddy said that by purchasing the three hospitals, Prime Health will have a greater market presence in the area and will be able to negotiate better contracts with health insurers. All hospital employees will keep their jobs, Reddy said (Perkes, Orange County Register, 8/17).
Sutter Delta Medical Center officials said emergency department wait times have been reduced from four to six hours to one to two hours after the hospital adopted the Rapid Medical Evaluation system two months ago, the East Bay Business Times reports.
California Emergency Physicians Medical Group developed the system, which places a doctor in the triage area to evaluate and treat nonemergency patients quickly, among other changes.
According to the Business Times, hospitals across the nation are adopting strategies to make their EDs more efficient -- including using providers earlier in triage, implementing bedside registration and treating nonemergency patients in separate areas (Hogarth, East Bay Business Times, 8/11).
Fremont-Rideout Health Group registered nurses will vote next month on whether to join the California Nurses Association, the Marysville Appeal-Democrat reports.
CNA officials said an "overwhelming" number of registered nurses at all Fremont-Rideout facilities signed cards in favor of the vote. Nurses at Fremont-Rideout's hospital in Gridley voted not to participate, but the vote will include nurses at Rideout Memorial Hospital in Marysville; Fremont Medical Center in Yuba City; and the group's cancer center, outpatient surgery center and home health service.
Nurses say they want increased staffing to improve patient care, wage and retirement benefits in line with area standards, and more respect from management (Young, Marysville Appeal-Democrat, 8/12).
Hanford health officials have broken ground on a $2 million clinic in the Home Garden neighborhood of Hanford, the Fresno Bee reports. Currently, a mobile health clinic serves the area.
The clinic will be part of the Central Valley Family Health network of rural health care clinics. The 14-clinic network is run by Adventist Health Central Valley General Hospital in Hanford.
Adventist officials said they hope to begin construction on the clinic in September or October and to open the clinic early next year. The clinic will contain eight examining rooms, a procedure room and a laboratory. Clinic services will include general family medicine, obstetrics and pediatrics (Bragg, Fresno Bee, 8/18).
Kaiser Permanente is looking to contract with a hospital in Ventura, Oxnard or Camarillo for nonemergency medical services after two Catholic Healthcare West hospitals did not renew their contract with the HMO, the Ventura County Star reports.
Kaiser recently purchased Buenaventura Medical Group and its clinics, and as part of that arrangement, state law requires Kaiser to contract with a hospital within 30 minutes or 15 miles of Buenaventura patients.
Kaiser had contracted with CHW's St. John's hospitals in Oxnard and Camarillo, but the contract was not renewed because no agreement could be reached on payment rates, St. John's officials said. Rita O'Connor, a St. John's spokesperson, said the hospitals are no longer negotiating with Kaiser.
Kaiser also has a contract with Community Memorial Hospital in Ventura, and it expires in July 2007. According to a Community Memorial memorandum, the hospital has told Kaiser the contract would not be renewed when it expires. Kaiser officials said they intend to reach a new agreement with the hospital.
Without a contract, Kaiser would have to pay hospitals' regularly billed charges for services, rather than negotiated discounts (Hoops, Ventura County Star, 8/14).
Union representatives for workers at Los Robles Hospital and Medical Center said they would give a 10-day notice to strike if a tentative contract agreement is not reached by Aug. 31, the Ventura County Star reports. Negotiations are continuing over staffing, wages and benefits.
If a strike is called, it would affect all five HCA-owned hospitals in the state.
Dana Simon, administration vice president of United Health Care Workers-West, said negotiations were "very slow and unreasonably difficult."
However, hospital President and CEO Jim Sherman said progress has been made. Sherman said Los Robles has a plan in place to deal with a potential strike (Ortiz, Ventura County Star, 8/15).
NPR's "Morning Edition" on Tuesday reported on CMS inspections of Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center to determine whether problems at the hospital have been adequately addressed. NPR also reports on area residents' concerns about the hospital (del Barco, "Morning Edition," NPR, 8/15).
If the medical center does not pass any part of the inspection, it could lose up to $200 million in federal Medicare funding. Los Angeles County supervisors say that if federal funding is lost, the hospital will have to be downsized, closed or placed under control of another entity (California Healthline, 8/4).
The NPR segment includes comments from:
- Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.);
- Timothy Watkins, president of the Watts Labor Community Action Committee; and
- Area residents ("Morning Edition," NPR, 8/15).
Mee Health Systems this week announced the first series of hires for a new cancer center in Paso Robles, but officials said the center likely will not open until early next year, the San Luis Obispo Tribune reports.
Robert Dichman, president of Central Coast Medical Oncology in Santa Maria, will service as chief consultant of the center and will be responsible for building the program, according to the Tribune.
The cancer center will provide a multidisciplinary medical facility for cancer patients, officials said (Karim, San Luis Obispo Tribune, 8/16).
Natividad Medical Center has opened Monterey County's first Level III community neonatal intensive care unit after receiving provisional approval last month by the California Children's Services program's Medical Services Branch, the Monterey County Herald reports.
The provisional status allows the hospital to care for infants who require breathing assistance and to manage their medications.
In developing the unit, Natividad provided staff education and training on caring for seriously ill infants and hired neonatal nurse practitioners and neonatal physicians. The hospital also purchased new equipment, including newborn ventilators and infant cardiac monitors (Johnson, Monterey County Herald, 8/12).
KPCC's "KPCC News" on Wednesday in the first of a two-part series profiled Patton State Hospital, which U.S. Department of Justice officials placed on a consent decree earlier this year after allegations that the facility did not provide adequate care. The report examined how staff are adapting to the court-ordered shift toward a recovery model from the medical model of psychiatric care. The segment includes comments from:
- Cindy Barrett, spokesperson for the hospital;
- Fred Brenion, senior librarian at Patton;
- Octavio Carlos Luna, executive director; and
- Joseph Malancharuvil, chief psychiatrist (Cuevas, "KPCC News," KPCC, 8/16).
Both segments are available online in RealPlayer.
KPCC's "Patt Morrison" on Thursday considered the state of California's mental hospitals during a live broadcast from Patton.
- Maureen O'Connell, San Bernardino County deputy district attorney; and
- Michelle Sefers, a psychiatric technician on the Positive Behavioral Support Team at Patton (Morrison, "Patt Morrison," KPCC, 8/17).