California Healthline Rounds Up Recent Hospital News
The Loma Linda Planning Commission on Wednesday recommended for approval a proposal to build the California Heart and Surgical Hospital, a private specialty facility, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reports. The City Council will consider the proposal Aug. 23.
Other area hospitals oppose the proposed facility, which they say would draw away private insurance patients for high-cost procedures (Gang, Riverside Press-Enterprise, 8/4).
KPCC's "Talk of the City" on Wednesday included a discussion of Downey Regional Medical Center's possible closure of its emergency department, in part because of the cost of treating the uninsured (Beaupre, "Talk of the City," KPCC, 8/3).
Downey Chief Operating Officer Robert Fuller said the hospital lost between $7 million and $11 million in 2004 on 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, 8/3).
Guests on the program included Fuller and Carol Meyer, director of the Los Angeles County Emergency Medical Services Agency ("Talk of the City," KPCC, 8/3). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.
Nurses at Scripps Memorial Hospital-Encinitas last month voted 128-100 to retain union representation by the California Nurses Association after a group of nurses tried to have the union decertified for not negotiating a contract with the hospital, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. CNA, which unionized the nurses in 2003, has been in contract negotiations with the hospital for more than a year.
Union representatives said that the hospital has encouraged nurses to support decertification and vote against retaining the union. The hospital and the union opposition group said the facility did not play a role.
Union representation cannot be challenged again for at least one year. CNA officials said they are eager to resume contract negotiations with the hospital (Skidmore, San Diego Union-Tribune, 7/30).
The board of Tri-City Medical Center last month voted 5-2 to spend $1 million to $1.4 million in cash reserves to help fund a new outpatient surgery center, the North County Times reports. The center would help the hospital focus on patients with more severe illnesses, hospital administrators said.
The funds from the hospital will help finance a joint partnership with an unspecified number of private surgeons, who would occupy a new $6.7 million building on the Tri-City campus. It remains to be seen how many surgeons will invest in the surgery center, but at a meeting about the potential partnership in June, more than 20 surgeons expressed interest, according to a hospital executive (Sisson, North County Times, 7/29).