California Healthline Rounds Up Recent Hospital News
Loma Linda City Council members on Tuesday voted to issue a permit for the construction of the 28-bed California Heart and Surgical Hospital, despite strong opposition from community hospitals, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reports. Three council members, including Mayor Floyd Petersen (R), voted in favor of approving the permit.
Opponents of the specialty hospital said surgical procedures to be performed there subsidize emergency and indigent care at community hospitals. Council members said they didn't see it as their responsibility to settle issues that they say the state and federal governments should address (Santschi, Riverside Press-Enterprise, 9/7). According to hospital administrators, groundbreaking is planned within 45 days, once the plans are cleared with city departments (Kresge, Riverside Press-Enterprise, 9/8).
KPCC's "KPCC News" on Wednesday reported on the Loma Linda City Council's vote to approve construction of the hospital. The segment includes comments from Gordon Handley, a physician at Loma Linda Community Hospital, and Petersen (Cuevas, "KPCC News," KPCC, 9/7). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.
Desert Regional Medical Center on Wednesday announced that it will stop accepting patients in its psychiatric ward on Sept. 16 to prepare for renovations, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reports.
According to Jerry Wengerd, director of mental health for Riverside County, the closure of the 27-bed psychiatric unit will negatively affect the county's mental health system.
Riverside County contracts with Oasis Psychiatric Health Facility in Indio, but the 16-bed unit cannot accept patients who also require medical care.
The county also has a 77-bed ward in Riverside and a 28-bed unit operated by Moreno Valley Community Hospital. However, the Moreno Valley hospital staffs only 18 of those beds because of a nursing shortage (Brickey/Beeman, Riverside Press-Enterprise, 9/8).
KPCC's "KPCC News" on Thursday reported on a closed door meeting for state officials in Sacramento to discuss Downey Regional Medical Center's possible closure of its emergency department, in part because of the cost of treating the uninsured (Rabe, "KPCC News," KPCC, 9/8).
Downey Chief Operating Officer Robert Fuller said the hospital lost between $7 million and $11 million in 2004 in its ED, adding that the hospital has used a $60 million surplus, half of which was used to treat uninsured patients. Fuller attributed Downey's financial problems to an increase in uninsured patients seeking care at the hospital after the county in 2002 closed several nearby clinics. Fuller said that the hospital also has had to treat emergency patients diverted from the nearby Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center (California Healthline, 8/5).
The segment includes comments from Fuller and staff of Downey's ED ("KPCC News," KPCC, 9/8). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.
Los Angeles County supervisors on Tuesday approved a plan to spend $32 million to repair facilities at King/Drew, the Los Angeles Times reports. The plan, the first of a two-phase, $64 million refurbishment proposal, will include repairs to the corroded sewer and steam pipes that have leaked water and waste into the hospital (Leonard, Los Angeles Times, 9/7).
The Board of Supervisors in January approved $3 million for two of three improvement projects after CMS and the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations cited multiple problems (Long Beach Press-Telegram, 9/6).
Three hospitals are planning expansions to their facilities in order to address the health needs of the growing population in the Pass area of Riverside County, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reports.
The San Gorgonio Memorial Hospital is planning a $126 million expansion that will nearly triple the number of patient rooms, expand its ED and construct a helipad in Banning. Beaver Medical Group is constructing a building at its Banning facility that will add 14 more doctors.
In addition, Loma Linda University is considering building a medical facility on 14 acres of university-owned land in Beaumont (Moore, Riverside Press-Enterprise, 9/8).
Stanford University Hospital and Stanford University unionized workers on Monday held a joint rally to call attention to their request for expanded health care and retirement benefits, in advance of contract negotiations scheduled to begin this month, the San Jose Mercury News reports.
Rally organizers said past negotiations between workers and the two employers have been "contentious, and rallygoers said they didn't want health and retirement benefits to suffer," the Mercury News reports.
Sara Staley, a spokesperson for Stanford and Lucile Packard Children's hospitals, said the facilities have "not even begun contract negotiations" but added that officials "look forward to having this discussion in an air of collaboration and professionalism" (Nguyen, San Jose Mercury News, 9/6).
A mediator at the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service has "taken the unusual step of crafting a settlement" between Sutter Health hospitals and Northern California hospital workers in an effort to avoid a strike that could involve 8,000 health care workers.
Eight facilities owned by Sutter have been in negotiations with the Service Employees International Union United Health Care Workers for more than a year. SEIU-UHW, which represents 4,500 workers at the facilities, says it will accept the mediator's proposal and cancel the strike, which is scheduled to begin Sept. 13, if Sutter agrees to the terms.
However, Sutter said that the mediators' proposal applies only to California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco and that other Sutter facilities have not seen the offer (Silber, Contra Costa Times, 9/7). Sutter officials said CPMC was not accepting the contract offer (Osterman, Sacramento Bee, 9/7).
A spokesperson for the federal agency said the proposal initially was issued to CPMC but was intended to serve as an option for all eight hospitals (Contra Costa Times, 9/7).
The California Nurses Association, representing 3,500 nurses at the hospitals, said it will stage a sympathy strike at the hospitals if an agreement is not reached. The hospitals have said they will stay open (Vesely, Oakland Tribune, 9/7).