California Healthline Highlights Recent Hospital News
Blue Cross of California and Centinela Freeman HealthSystem reached an agreement on Wednesday after a dispute over fees threatened to affect more than 175,000 members, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The agreement will allow Blue Cross members to receive full coverage of care at Centinela Freeman HealthSystem's three hospitals in Inglewood and Marina del Rey. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The deal comes two weeks after the Department of Managed Health Care urged the two sides to reach a compromise (Girion, Los Angeles Times, 3/16).
The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations has launched an investigation into allegations that a respiratory therapist abused disabled patients and used a cell phone camera to photograph them, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
However, a JCAHO spokesperson said the group has no standard for determining how well a hospital safeguards against patient abuse.
The Division of Licensing and Certification also is investigating the allegations.
In response to the allegations, the hospital is restricting cell phone use to certain areas and requiring that patient bed curtains remain open unless an invasive procedure is being performed. The hospital also will conduct frequent, unannounced checks on caregivers administering treatment.
Hospital administrators are working to determine which procedures should require the presence of two caregivers rather than one (Clark, San Diego Union-Tribune, 3/15).
Construction on an expansion of Children's Hospital Central California is expected to be completed in July and increase the number of beds from 255 to 297, the Fresno Bee reports.
The project's cost is $7.7 million. The hospital plans to further expand by as much as 45 beds by 2010 (Bentley, Fresno Bee, 3/14).
Children's Hospital and Research Center Oakland will expand services at its satellite clinics to meet patient demand as the region's population grows, the Oakland Tribune reports.
The hospital will use $72 million from Proposition 61 -- approved by voters in 2004 to fund improvements to children's hospitals -- for the expansion and rebuilding efforts.
Clinics also will offer diagnostic and follow-up care, and the hospital will focus on childhood obesity and asthma, the two largest health threats to children in the area (Vesely, Oakland Tribune, 3/12).
Sutter Health officials on Tuesday announced the hospital chain will increase spending for hospital and outpatient care center expansions in Northern California by $1.7 billion, the Sacramento Bee reports. The funding will increase Sutter's total capital commitment to $6.6 billion through 2017.
Officials said funding for the outpatient facilities will increase to $2.1 billion from $1.4 billion for projects in Northern California, excluding Sacramento (Chan, Sacramento Bee, 3/15).
Sutter is expected to release a report on a master-planning project outlining its future needs by the end of the year, the Stockton Record reports (Goldeen, Stockton Record, 3/15).
Sutter Medical Center will close its psychiatric unit at the end of 2008 when an agreement with Sonoma County expires, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports. The locked unit provided short-term care for patients with severe mental illnesses.
County officials are considering housing patients who pose less of a threat to others and themselves, while looking for a hospital to open a locked psychiatric unit (Benfell, Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 3/10).
Sonora County supervisors are considering closing Tuolumne General Hospital's acute care facilities and other cuts at the hospital as they try to balance the fiscal year 2006-2007 budget, the Modesto Bee reports.
County officials say they need to reduce general fund spending by at least $6.3 million.
Supervisors also are considering a proposal to eliminate the emergency department, intensive care unit and surgeries at the hospital.
The cuts could be approved on April 25 after public hearings on the issue. If the supervisors approve the cuts, there is no schedule for closing the acute care unit (Carlson, Modesto Bee, 3/16).
Tri-City Medical Center and Blue Cross of California may be nearing a contract agreement, according to Allen Coleman, Tri-City's chief negotiator and vice president of strategic services, the North County Times reports.
Coleman said the hospital is "hoping to have this settled by the next board meeting" on March 24.
Tri-City's contract with Blue Cross expired Jan. 1 (Diehl, North County Times, 3/14).
The Visalia City Council last week approved a zoning change in the western part of town, which could lead to the construction of an orthopedic surgery center in the area, the Fresno Bee reports.
The zoning change was requested by the Orthopaedic Associates Medical Group. The group has proposed building a $17 million institute to provide imaging, surgery and research centers.
The city council will review the proposal before a conditional use permit is granted (Jimenez, Fresno Bee, 3/10).