California Healthline Highlights Recent Hospital News
Several newspapers recently have published stories addressing developments at hospitals statewide. Summaries are provided below.
- Escondido: Emergency department wait times at Palomar Medical Center in Escondido have been reduced by half since the hospital in May implemented a new triage system, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. The Rapid Medical Evaluation unit, which is part of a program created by the California Emergency Physicians medical group, is devoted to treating minor injuries and is intended to reduce overcrowding in the hospital's main ED. Since its inception, the unit has reduced the average "door-to-doc" time from nearly 90 minutes to as few as 45, according to Jaime Rivas, medical director of emergency and trauma services for Palomar Pomerado Health. Rivas said that similar triage systems have been implemented at about 53 hospitals in the state staffed by the CEP medical group (Lee, San Diego Union-Tribune, 12/1).
- Fresno: The VA Medical Center in Fresno received a "mostly clean bill of health" in a report by auditors from the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General, the Fresno Bee reports. The report, based on interviews with 30 patients, found no problems in nine of 17 areas reviewed, including "environment of care" and "patient care units." According to the Bee, the hospital has addressed problems identified by auditors in areas including doctors' completion of paperwork and properly monitoring patient oxygen supplies. The report recommended that hospital administrators improve inventory control procedures to maintain the correct amount of medical supplies (Doyle, Fresno Bee, 11/30).
- San Francisco: An employee of Laguna Honda Hospital in San Francisco last week filed a lawsuit to prevent San Francisco from reducing the number of beds at a planned replacement facility, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The suit -- filed by Sean Patrick Monette-Shaw, a hospital secretary and union shop steward -- alleges that the city last year illegally spent $25 million from a tobacco settlement to address the San Francisco general fund budget deficit. The suit alleges that San Francisco residents had voted to allocate the funds to construct a replacement facility for Laguna Honda, the oldest nursing home in the state, according to the Chronicle. Without the funds, the city might have to reduce the number of beds in the replacement facility because of increasing construction costs, according to the suit. However, John Kanaley, executive administrator of Laguna Honda, said that the city will receive construction bids in January and that prior to that, it is unclear whether the city will have to reduce the number of beds in the new facility (Lelchuk, San Francisco Chronicle, 12/1).
Los Angeles Times Features
Summaries of recent Los Angeles Times features addressing hospital operations appear below.
- The Los Angeles Times on Monday examined how Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton has remained financially stable over the last several years. Arrowhead has an annual budget of $274 million and has not required county funding to balance its budget for several years, the Times reports. Former Arrowhead CEO Mark Uffer attributed the hospital's financial performance can be attributed to a private-sector mindset, the Times reports. For example, the 372-bed facility has lowered costs by contracting with private-sector physicians, collecting more money from health insurers and taking advantage of providing one of two trauma centers in San Bernardino County. Arrowhead next year plans to add nine beds to the ED and hire an additional 132 staff members (Martin, Los Angeles Times, 11/30).
- The Times on Monday also profiled Samuel Edwards, a Ventura County doctor who is helping to "re-establish the bankrupt Santa Paula Memorial Hospital as the emergency lifeline" for about 50,000 Santa Clara River Valley residents. According to the Times, Edwards "kept negotiations [with Ventura County officials] alive despite nearly two years of setbacks" and last month helped negotiate the purchase and scheduled reopening of the hospital, pending bankruptcy court approval. Edwards has been seeking support from community members to operate the hospital as a unit of the county's public hospital. He also has had discussions with several doctors and nurses "whose return to the hospital would be crucial to its success," according to the Times. Edwards said, "My goal is to get [the hospital] on its feet and operating in a safe, sound and good way. But, I'm only part of a team. ... I'm kind of the glue that you don't ever see, but it holds the chair together" (Kelley, Los Angeles Times, 11/29).