California Healthline Rounds Up Recent Hospital News
The Modesto Bee on Friday examined the class-action lawsuit filed against Catholic Healthcare West on Tuesday by Consejo de Latinos Unidos alleging that its hospitals are overcharging the uninsured (Carlson, Modesto Bee, 10/14).
The San Francisco Chronicle on Friday examined the fifth week of the service workers' strike at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco with "no resolution on the horizon" (Raine, San Francisco Chronicle, 10/14).
About 400 doctors on the staffs at Eden Medical Center and San Leandro Hospital are "split" over a plan by parent company Sutter Health to bring in the company's own physicians to offices in the area, the Oakland Tribune reports.
Sutter Health has announced plans to create an integrated delivery system between the two hospitals based on a model developed by the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, a subsidiary. The IDS model allows hospitals and clinics to form single networks with physicians, support staff, equipment and related services for "one-stop patient shopping," the Tribune reports.
Supporters of the plan say the new physicians will augment existing medical staff and will not displace other doctors. They also argue that the new system will allow Eden and San Leandro to better compete with Kaiser Permanente, which is expanding in the greater Hayward area, and replace physicians as they age, reduce their case loads and retire.
However, physicians who oppose the plan said it will "create a round robin of treatment, referrals and computerized information sharing" that would make it impossible for independent, private practitioners to compete, according to the Tribune.
Some of the doctors who oppose the plan have limited the number of radiology and outpatient surgery patients they send to San Leandro and have stopped referring patients to Eden. In addition, 100 doctors active at the two hospitals have signed a "no confidence" petition in George Bischalaney, Eden's president (Holzmeister, Oakland Tribune, 10/9).
John Muir/Mt. Diablo Health System officials this week confirmed that they are considering opening an acute-care hospital on the system's 58-acre Brentwood medical campus in eastern Contra Costa County, the Contra Costa Times reports.
A feasibility study, in early stages, will determine how quickly the population is growing and the number of medical professionals needed to serve the area, according to health system spokesperson Barbara Hepner.
John Muir officials plan to decide in 2006 whether to build the facility.
Sutter-Delta Medical Center recently completed a $25 million expansion in Antioch, and Kaiser Permanente recently finished an outpatient medical center in Antioch and has plans to open a hospital there by 2007 (Tribble, Contra Costa Times, 10/14).
KPCC's "KPCC News" on Wednesday reported on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors cancellation of a hearing scheduled for next week to discuss a plan to close the obstetrics, neonatology and pediatrics units at Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center (Rabe, "KPCC News," KPCC, 10/12).
County officials on Aug. 4 recommended closing the wards, which have 38 patients daily on average, or about 22% of King/Drew's 176 daily patients on average.
County Department of Health Services Director Thomas Garthwaite last week withdrew the proposed plan after learning that closing the units could have jeopardized about $29 million in government funding for King/Drew (California Healthline, 10/12).
The KPCC segment includes comments from Garthwaite and Los Angeles County Supervisors Don Knabe and Zev Yaroslavsky ("KPCC News," KPCC, 10/12). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.
The National City Council last week approved plans by Paradise Valley Hospital to build 96 townhomes that will be available to employees of the hospital for $50,000 less than the units' market value, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. The homes will be available to the public if hospital employees do not purchase all of them.
According to hospital officials, Paradise Valley has had difficulty recruiting medical professionals because of the high cost of living in the area.
Hospital CEO Alan Soderblom said only 10% of the hospital's 1,400 employees live in the city (Sierra, San Diego Union-Tribune, 10/11).