California Healthline Highlights Recent Hospital News
Antelope Valley Hospital directors on Tuesday voted unanimously to accept a union to represent licensed vocational workers and other support-service workers, the Los Angeles Daily News reports.
Directors approved recognizing the Service Employee International Union, United Healthcare Workers-West after the Public Employment Relations Board ruled that 84 signed and dated "no union" cards did not count as votes against the union.
A total of 569 workers signed cards in favor of the union, but 84 later signed "no union" cards. PERB ruled that the proper way to revoke previously signed cards was by letter and that the "'no union' slips do not show the signers' specific intent to revoke the SEIU authorization cards" (Maeshiro, Los Angeles Daily News, 2/23).
More than 400 employees at John Muir Medical Center in Concord on Thursday began a two-day strike, the Contra Costa Times reports.
Licensed vocational nurses, certified nursing assistants, respiratory therapists and dietary aides, who are represented by Service Employees International Union, United Healthcare Workers-West and have been working without a contract since Oct. 15, 2005, are leading the strike. They say that the hospital administration has been negotiating in bad faith.
Radiology and X-ray technicians represented by International Longshoreman's and Warehousemen's Union Local 6 are participating in a sympathy strike. Employees at John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek are not unionized and therefore are not affected by the strike.
The hospital has hired temporary workers to address the strike, which is not expected to affect scheduled surgeries or patient appointments, according to hospital spokesperson Patty Hefner (Kleffman, Contra Costa Times, 2/24).
The Walnut Creek City Council on Tuesday voted unanimously in favor of approving an expansion project at John Muir Medical Center, including a five-story hospital addition and a seven-level parking structure, the San Jose Mercury News reports. The $460 million plan calls for the hospital's original seven-story tower to be demolished upon completion of the new patient tower in 2012.
According to the Mercury News, the city council's approval of the project "paves the way for future expansion" as the hospital plans to construct four other additions by 2050 (Harrington, San Jose Mercury News, 2/21).
The Palomar Pomerado Health District on Thursday unanimously approved a purchase agreement for 56 acres at the Escondido Research and Technology Center for the construction of a $690 million medical campus, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. Under the agreement, developer James McCann and the health care district will be allowed jointly to build up to 300,000 square feet of medical office space, although initial construction will be limited to 150,000 square feet of space.
The health care district board also agreed to indemnify the county against any negative effects of locating a hospital 900 feet from San Diego County's second-largest power plant (Lee, San Diego Union-Tribune, 2/24).
The corporate board of Sharp Grossmont Hospital on Tuesday voted to extend Sharp Healthcare's lease to administer the facility by 30 years to 2051, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. Three members of the 18-member board abstained from the vote, but all others voted in favor of the extension.
Final approval of the agreements requires a vote by residents of the Grossmont Healthcare District. A decision has not been made as to when to place the measure on the ballot (Krueger, San Diego Union-Tribune, 2/22).
About 68% of likely voters in east San Diego County said they would "definitely" or "probably" support a $225 million bond measure to help pay for the seismic safety retrofit of the facility, according to a recent poll, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. A bond measure would require two-thirds approval.
The poll surveyed 600 residents about whether they would support an annual $19 tax per $100,000 of assessed value on their property for 30 years to fund the bond.
The health care district bond committee will make recommendations to the district board on Monday, and the board will vote on whether to seek a bond measure next month (Sanchez, San Diego Union-Tribune, 2/18).
Sutter Health CEO Pat Fry is reconsidering seismic retrofits of some hospitals and might instead replace, rather than upgrade, many of the hospital system's facilities, the San Francisco Business Times reports. However, Sutter's "ambitious plans" look "increasingly likely to come under the knife," according to the Business Times.
Fry said more details about the plan would be revealed in the coming months. Other initiatives proposed by Fry include spending $800 million on outpatient facilities and services and reducing the system's dependence on large annual price increases.
The Business Times reports that many of the proposed changes "center on the idea that consumers will soon have far more clout" in influencing the quality and cost of health care (Rauber, San Francisco Business Times, 2/19).