California Healthline Highlights Recent Hospital News
The Centinela Freeman Regional Medical Center Memorial Campus closed its obstetrics unit on Monday, saying services were being underutilized, the Los Angeles Times reports. The hospital system will consolidate obstetric services at its Centinela campus, which is one mile away.
Cyndee Woelfle, director of business development for the hospital system, said that both centers' obstetric units were "using under half their capacity" and that the hospital system decided to consolidate services to reduce costs.
Some nurses criticized the move, saying the services are crucial to women in the area and the space is limited at the Centinela campus' neonatal intensive care unit. The Memorial neonatal intensive care unit will remain open (Lin, Los Angeles Times, 1/7).
Officials at Community Medical Centers are considering a cost reduction goal of 5% this fiscal year after reporting a $10.8 million operating loss in 2004, the Fresno Bee reports. Operating losses for FY 2005 are expected to be more than $10 million, while overall losses are expected to be about $7 million, according to hospital officials.
John Zelezny, senior vice president for CMC, said losses for FY 2006 could reach $14 million. Zelezny also said the hospital system does not yet know whether 5% in reductions is an achievable goal. No formal cost-reduction plan has been approved (Correa, Fresno Bee, 1/7).
The Monterey County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday agreed to accept a proposal for short-term savings at Natividad Medical Center and voted unanimously to consider additional changes at the county-owned hospital, the Monterey County Herald reports. Including Monterey County, 14 California counties operate a public hospital.
Supervisor Dave Potter recommended that the board consider:
- Selling, leasing or transferring Natividad to public or private medical entities;
- Developing an arrangement that would allow a private organization to manage the hospital;
- Restructuring administration of the hospital, possibly in conjunction with the outsourcing of hospital operations to a health agency;
- Outsourcing administration of Natividad to a health agency; and
- Forming a tax-exempt corporation, which the county would control, to administer the hospital (Livernois, Monterey County Herald, 1/11).
The Service Employees International Union is suing the Sacramento City Council, alleging that an environmental review of a Sutter Medical Center redevelopment plan is inadequate and does not comply with state law, the Sacramento Bee reports. The suit seeks a new environmental analysis on air quality, traffic and parking impacts.
According to the union, the project would produce extreme noise levels from construction and an estimated 200 helicopter trips annually; a shortage of 686 parking spaces; and ultrafine particulate matter that is harmful to air quality.
Tom Gagen, CEO of the hospital, on Tuesday said work on the project will continue (Hardy, Sacramento Bee, 1/11).
Blue Cross of California members can no longer receive nonemergency treatment at Tri-City Medical Center after the insurer allowed its contract with the hospital to expire Jan. 1, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
Both sides declined to comment on the reason the contract was allowed to expire or how many people will be affected. Members will receive letters by the end of this week notifying them of the change.
Tri-City Medical Center board member Shelia Bryant-Tucker said hospital negotiators were trying to secure higher payment rates.
Hospital officials said they would continue negotiations with Blue Cross.
However, Blue Cross spokesperson Leslie Porras said last week, "We are not in negotiations at this time. The contract is terminated" (Klawonn, San Diego Union Tribune, 1/6).
The bone marrow transplant program at the University of California-Irvine Medical Center has been performing fewer transplants than required for participation in Medi-Cal since 1997 and has not had a full-time director since 2002, the Orange County Register reports (Heisel/Bernhard, Orange County Register, 1/11). Since the program was founded in 1995, 1997 was the only year it performed the required number of bone marrow transplants, the Los Angeles Times reports (Yoshino/Berthelsen, Los Angeles Times, 1/12).
The hospital withdrew from the Medi-Cal payment program after the Department of Health Services in 2002 criticized the program for consistently performing fewer transplants than required. Hospitals must perform 10 transplants annually to be eligible for reimbursement from Medi-Cal.
The hospital is not part of the National Marrow Donor Program registry and does not receive donated marrow from the program (Orange County Register, 1/11). In addition, the program is not accredited by the Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy, a not-for-profit group that accredits bone marrow transplant programs. According to the Times, half of the bone marrow transplant programs in California are accredited by the group (Los Angeles Times, 1/12).