California Healthline Highlights Recent Hospital News
The Los Medanos Community Healthcare District has approved $200,000 for new equipment and a second dentist at a children's dental clinic located at the Bay Point Family Health Center, the Contra Costa Times reports. The clinic has operated for the past five years in a converted classroom at the health center.
The clinic began applying for funding for renovations two years ago. Eight community groups committed to fund about 70% of the remodeling costs, and the health care district committed to pay the remaining costs.
The clinic treats beneficiaries of Medi-Cal and the county's health care program. Patients with no insurance are asked for a $10 donation (Phillips, Contra Costa Times, 10/23).
Sutter Health has announced plans to build its own specialty lab and discontinue outsourcing the majority of testing to Quest Diagnostics, the San Francisco Business Times reports.
Karen Garner, spokesperson for Sutter, said the new facility will process tests -- such as allergy testing and microbiological testing of viruses and other causes of infection -- that are typically not handled in the system's 26 member hospitals.
Ronald Workman, vice president of system lab operations, said he expects the new lab to reduce the waiting time for results by 25% and reduce member hospital's lab testing costs by about 15%.
The estimated cost of the building is about $11 million, but a specific location has not been determined (Rauber, San Francisco Business Times, 10/20).
KPBS' "These Days" on Oct. 23 included a discussion of Proposition T, a $596 million bond measure that would fund renovations and expansion at Tri-City Medical Center (Fudge, "These Days," KPBS, 10/23).
The measure is similar to Proposition F, a measure on the June ballot that received 65.9% approval but needed two-thirds of the vote to pass.
The initiative would levy a $23.40 tax per $100,000 of assessed value of district residents' properties. The health care district encompasses most of Carlsbad, Oceanside and Vista.
The funds would be used to expand the square footage of the hospital, build two new towers with 335 beds and expand the number of operating rooms and recovery areas. Beds also would be added to the intensive care unit, and an urgent care and observation area would be created.
Proposition T includes more specifics about costs, construction and timelines than the failed measure and would establish an independent citizens' oversight committee to oversee spending.
Proponents of the measure say it is needed for the hospital to meet state seismic safety standards and to accommodate a growing population (California Healthline, 9/6).
Guests on the program included Richard Burruss, former medical director of the emergency department at Tri-City Medical Center, and James Crostini, community member of Tri-City and opponent of Proposition T ("These Days," KPBS, 10/23).
Audio of the segment is available online.
California Pacific Medical Center last month pledged an additional $2 million over two years to the San Francisco Community Clinic Consortium, the San Francisco Business Times reports. The consortium treats nearly 10,000 uninsured or underinsured San Francisco residents.
According to an annual report released in 2005 by the city and county of San Francisco, the not-for-profit CPMC in fiscal year 2003 donated $2.4 million in charity care and received about $54 million in estimated income tax and property tax exemptions.
CPMC previously had committed $4 million to the consortium (San Francisco Business Times, 10/20).
The West Contra Costa Healthcare District on Wednesday approved plans for a joint venture agreement to operate Doctors Medical Center, the Oakland Tribune reports.
Under the joint venture agreement, the county would transfer about $10 million this year to the state, which will secure matching federal funds. The county periodically will release these funds to the district. The health care district also would transfer additional property tax revenue to the county.
The district must rely on the county for funding because health care districts on their own are not eligible for matching funds (Huff, Oakland Tribune, 10/26).
The district hopes to receive approval of the plan by a bankruptcy court judge on Thursday (Huff, Contra Costa Times, 10/21).
County Supervisor John Gioia said the board of supervisors could approve the plan as early as Tuesday (Johnson, San Francisco Chronicle, 10/26).
Lastly, the California Medical Assistance Commission on Nov. 2 must review the plan.
With regard to staffing, remaining hospital employees on Sunday will begin receiving full pay again, a month after all wages were cut 10% in an effort to keep the bankrupt hospital open (Contra Costa Times, 10/21).
Construction of a building to replace the current Edgemoor Skilled Nursing Facility was scheduled for completion this month, but a report found that the project is two years behind schedule and requires an additional $20 million, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. The project's cost has now escalated to $119 million, about $36 million higher than a 2005 estimate.
A new report being sent to San Diego County supervisors next week requests an additional $20 million to complete construction. The request comes four months after $15 million from the county general fund was appropriated for the project.
The new total cost of $118.8 million does not include furnishings, fixtures and equipment.
Problems with fireproofing the steel used for construction and heavy rains in 2004 that saturated the soil and delayed excavation and grading for months are some of the factors contributing to the delay.
Michael Moore, the county's information technology director, said it is too early to determine accountability for problems leading to the delays.
The new 192-bed facility is slated to open December 2008 (Branscomb, San Diego Union-Tribune, 10/25).
Blue Cross of California on Thursday proposed to extend its contract with John Muir hospitals for one month while contract negotiations continue, the Contra Costa Times reports. John Muir has not immediately responded to the proposal.
The contract was scheduled to expire at midnight Friday, the end of a one-week extension.
John Muir officials said that Blue Cross' proposed contract would not reimburse the hospitals sufficiently for treatment or for upgrades that the hospital plans to make.
Blue Cross officials said that John Muir charges too much for coverage.
About 36,500 patients receive services at John Muir hospitals (Avalos, Contra Costa Times, 10/27).
A division of the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development has approved $150 million in bonds to fund the expansion of Lodi Memorial Hospital to comply with state seismic safety rules, the Stockton Record reports. The expansion, estimated to cost $180 million, will include a new wing, physical plant and other upgrades.
Ron Kreutner, Lodi's CFO, said the hospital will borrow $30 million in the spring to fund a physical plant and then $120 million worth of debt to build a four-story, 90-bed wing. The remaining $30 million needed for the expansion will come from fundraising and the hospital's reserves, Kreutner said.
Construction is scheduled to begin next year (Hood, Stockton Record, 10/25).
Los Medanos Community Healthcare District last week announced that it is scheduled to make its final bond payment next year, five years ahead of its goal for emerging from bankruptcy, the East Bay Business Times reports.
The district will use $800,000 to $1 million in annual property tax revenue to fund health care projects, including the development of an urgent care center at the Pittsburg Health Center and a plan to upgrade services at a children's dental center located at the Bay Point Family Health Center (Hogarth, East Bay Business Times, 10/20).
Los Angeles County officials last week released to the public CMS' final report on Martin Luther King Jr./Drew University Medical Center, detailing why the facility failed a federal inspection, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The report explained federal investigators' findings that the hospital was not in compliance with nine of 23 federal requirements to participate in Medicare and Medi-Cal. The document focused on three areas:
- How medicine was administered;
- Errors by staff; and
- The facility's lack of upkeep.
King/Drew officials continue to dispute many of the report's findings. The report includes the county's response in which hospital officials outline procedural changes or extra employee training that have been enacted since the inspections (Hymon/Rosenblatt, Los Angeles Times, 10/21).
As a result of the failed inspection, King/Drew could lose federal funding as early as Nov. 30. A county proposal to maintain services at King/Drew is waiting federal approval. If passed, the hospital would transfer management to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center yet continue to offer limited service.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) on Thursday sent a letter to federal regulators endorsing the proposal (California Healthline, 10/25).
The CEO of Scripps Memorial Hospital Encinitas on Thursday announced two concessions to a proposed expansion plan that neighbors say will increase traffic, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
Under the concessions, the hospital will:
- Divert a 68,000-square-foot office building to a location away from homes and closer to the interstate; and
- Change an internal road linking parking lots from a one-way to a two-way road that will allow motorists to exit the hospital from a second location.
The rest of the hospital's expansion plans remains intact, including:
- A five-level, 800- to 895-space parking garage;
- Adding 11 beds to the 12-bed emergency department;
- A critical-care building with a rooftop helipad next to the hospital for intensive care and cardiac patients; and
- An acute-care building next to the hospital for surgeries (Lau, San Diego Union-Tribune, 10/27).