California Healthline Highlights Recent Hospital News
Barlow Respiratory Hospital has decided to sell its pastoral campus and is taking bids for the 25-acre site, the Los Angeles Times reports. Funds from the sale would be used to build a new facility to meet state seismic safety standards.
A new facility is expected to cost about $60 million (Vincent, Los Angeles Times, 1/16).
Riverside Community Hospital "has joined a small but growing group of medical centers" that bans smoking anywhere on hospital grounds, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reports.
The hospital will phase in the ban this month. Beginning next month, employees who repeatedly violate the ban could face disciplinary actions, according to hospital officials (Beeman, Riverside Press-Enterprise, 1/16).
Sutter Roseville Medical Center and the Service Employees International Union, United Healthcare Workers-West on Friday reached a contract agreement that includes across-the-board wage increases of 13% over two-and-a-half years, the Sacramento Bee reports.
Union officials accepted most of Sutter's offer in exchange for a contract that expires in June 2008 -- the same time other Sutter Health contracts expire, which could give the union more leverage during future contract negotiations, according to the Bee.
The contract must be ratified by union members (Osterman, Sacramento Bee, 1/14).
University of California-San Diego officials on Tuesday asked the UC Board of Regents to give budgetary approval for a proposed $169 million expansion of Thornton Hospital's emergency department and cardiovascular center, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
The cost is 70% more than the $100 million expansion estimate given in 2004 due to inflation and materials costs.
According to UCSD CEO Richard Liekweg, ED visits are expected to increase 5% annually. The hospital was built to accommodate 17,000 ED visits per year, but this year it will see about 22,000 patients, Liekweg said.
In addition, UCSD officials noted that Thornton likely will serve more patients with heart disease and stroke as the area's population ages. Half of patients with such problems are taken to the ED. Officials also expect to test and incorporate new technologies that could improve patient outcomes (Clark, San Diego Union-Tribune, 1/18).
Blue Cross of California and Tri-City Medical Center in Oceanside have agreed to reopen contract negotiations two weeks after their previous agreement expired, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. The hospital's contract with Blue Cross expired Jan. 1 (Klawonn, San Diego Union-Tribune, 1/20).
Both parties have declined to discuss the issue or how many members are affected by the contract expiration (Esola, North County Times, 1/16).
Tri-City CEO Arthur Gonzalez said in an e-mail from a hospital spokesperson that a meeting with Blue Cross has been scheduled for early next week. Blue Cross spokesperson Leslie Porras said the hospital had "reached out" to meet with the insurer, but added that no date has been set for a meeting (San Diego Union-Tribune, 1/20).
University of California-Irvine Medical Center officials this week acknowledged that the hospital failed to contact at least 20 couples whose eggs and embryos might have been stolen and implanted in other women at the facility more than 15 years ago, the Los Angeles Times reports.
So far, twenty-nine couples have filed suit against the University of California system over the issue, alleging fraud, concealment and emotional distress. Byron Beam, UC's lead attorney for the case, said two-thirds of the couples in recently filed suits were not contacted by UCIMC.
However, UCIMC is arguing that the statute of limitations on the cases has expired and is asking that the couples consider settling. Beam said possible settlements must take into consideration that some cases occurred as long as 18 years ago.
Lawyers will meet Friday to discuss a possible settlement (Yoshino, Los Angeles Times, 1/20).
Physicians Management Group officials said they are preparing to increase their $30 million offer to purchase Victor Valley Community Hospital to $34 million if the hospital decides to sell, the Victorville Daily Press reports. Prem Reddy, owner of Desert Valley Medical Center, also has offered $30 million for the hospital.
VVCH Board Chair Herb Williamson said earlier this month that the board has not decided whether to sell the hospital, and if it decides to sell, it could take nine months or more to transfer the property (Gonzalez, Victorville Daily Press, 1/13).