California Healthline Highlights Recent Hospital News
Palmdale city officials have sent a letter to the Antelope Valley Hospital District denying a charge by district CEO Les Wong that the financial aid provided for a new Universal Health Services hospital is an improper gift of public funds, the Los Angeles Daily News reports.
City Attorney Matt Ditzhazy said the land was provided at no cost to taxpayers in consideration for the construction of a hospital -- not as a gift. Under the city's contract with UHS, the company would continue operating the hospital until the city receives $5 million in tax increments (Skeen, Los Angeles Daily News, 9/4).
Summaries of recent developments at Sutter Health facilities appear below.
- Health care workers at thirteen Sutter Health hospitals on Friday said they will strike unless progress is made negotiating contracts, the San Francisco Examiner reports (Dineen, San Francisco Examiner, 9/2). The Service Employees International Union United Healthcare Workers-West announced that as many as 8,000 workers will begin an open-ended strike on Sept. 13. SEIU-UHW said the hospitals refuse to accept certain standards that other health systems have adopted, including third-party resolution for staffing disputes, a training fund for workers and increased retirement benefits. The California Nurses Association said it will support the workers by striking in sympathy. Sutter hospital officials said they will hire replacement workers during the strike (Silber, Contra Costa Times, 9/3).
- Registered nurses at Sutter Medical Center on Wednesday voted to join CNA, the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat reports. Nurses voted to break with the Service Employees International Union in October 2004. About 450 nurses will join CNA (Rose, Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, 9/2).
- Registered nurses at California Pacific Medical Center represented by CNA voted to approve a three-year contract with a 20% raise from mid-2004 through mid-2007 as well as a prorated ratification bonus, the San Francisco Business Times reports. Nurses received a 14% raise Jan. 1, and will receive an additional 6% salary increase in June 2006. CNA has been negotiating with CPMC since spring 2004 (Rauber , San Francisco Business Times, 9/5).
Prospect Medical Holdings, a subsidiary of Tenet Healthcare, has sold Brotman Medical Center to a group that includes on-staff physicians, Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times reports. The 420-bed hospital is being sold for $27 million (Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times, 9/2).
Eisenhower Medical Center on Aug. 29 paid $8 million to settle allegations that it defrauded Medicare in the 1990s, federal officials announced, the AP/Contra Costa Times reports.
The hospital paid the settlement -- about twice what it allegedly overcharged the government -- on Monday but did not admit any wrongdoing (AP/Contra Costa Times, 9/1). The allegations surfaced in 1998 when a whistleblower employed by the hospital's consulting firm filed a lawsuit against the hospital on claims that it overbilled Medicare from 1990 to 1998 by not disclosing information that would have reduced the hospital's Medicare reimbursements, the Los Angeles Times reports (Pugmire, Los Angeles Times, 9/1).
Ballots on whether to fund the first trauma center in the Morongo Basin were sent on Aug. 29 to High Desert residents, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reports.
The development of a trauma center at Hi-Desert Medical Center would be funded by Measure N, a proposal for a $24 annual tax paid by property owners in the Morongo Basin. The nearest trauma center in the area is at Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs, as much as 90 minutes away for some Morongo Basin residents.
If two-thirds of voters approve Measure N, Hi-Desert could open the trauma center by the end of 2005, according to hospital spokesperson Joe Ruddon. The tax increase would take effect in 2006 and would raise about $1.4 million annually, he said (Osterwalder, Riverside Press-Enterprise, 8/27).
Kaiser Permanente officials announced they have begun planning a $30 million cancer center in South San Francisco to treat patients with more serious illnesses rather than send them to non-Kaiser facilities, the San Francisco Business Times reports.
The proposed facility, scheduled to open in 2007, is expected to treat 1,000 cancer patients annually, including referrals from surrounding medical centers (Rauber , San Francisco Business Times, 9/5).
Palomar Pomerado Health's board on Tuesday voted 6-1 to purchase 52 acres in an Escondido business park for $28 million for a new $531 million hospital, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. Under the deal, the district would pay a $2 million penalty if it does not complete escrow on the purchase.
Part of the purchase and construction will be funded using proceeds from a $496 million bond measure health district residents approved in November 2004 (Gustafson, San Diego Union-Tribune, 8/31).
The Peninsula Health Care District board of directors on Tuesday voted in favor of allowing Sutter Health to build a 243-bed hospital, which by 2010 would replace Peninsula Medical Center, the San Francisco Examiner reports. The agreement gives Sutter a 50-year lease on the proposed facility at a fixed rate of $1.5 million annually.
The agreement does not specify what level of charity care Sutter would provide at the facility or what effect construction of a new facility in San Carlos would have on Sutter's operation of the proposed Burlingame facility.
District residents next year will vote on the proposal (Brundage, San Francisco Examiner, 8/31).
The Kansas-based owners of St. Rose Hospital are in the process of transferring control to a secular board of directors in Hayward, the Oakland Tribune reports (O'Brien, Oakland Tribune, 8/30).
The local board of directors of St. Rose Hospital on Tuesday acquired the hospital for $22.2 million from Kansas-based Via Christi Health System, the Oakland Tribune reports. Under terms of the sale, which the attorney general approved in July, the local board of directors for at least five years must:
- Continue to operate the hospital at its current level of service and licensure;
- Maintain obstetric services; and
- Spend an average of $1.5 million annually for charity care costs.
In addition, the board must maintain the current level of services at an affiliated pediatric and dental clinic or find a new operator (O'Brien, Oakland Tribune, 9/2).
The San Jose City Council on Aug. 30 unanimously approved beginning a planning process initiative to return clinic and emergency services to the San Jose Medical Center site, the San Jose Mercury News reports. The initiative also will consider other uses for the property, such as housing.
The initiative includes the creation of a community planning group to focus on low-cost comprehensive outpatient health services and identify five acres on the site for a future full-service hospital. The group is expected to present a work plan in 45 days.
The council also rejected a short-term proposal for a 13.5-acre site on East Santa Clara Street to relocate a clinic and build assisted-living senior housing.
HCA Healthcare, the owner of the site, closed the hospital on Dec. 9, 2004, because of financial losses (Rombeck, San Jose Mercury News, 8/31).