California Hospital News Roundup for the Week of April 4, 2008
Community Memorial Health System has relocated and expanded its Ventura Center for Family Health as part of an effort to meet community demand for health providers, the Ventura County Star reports.
In the two weeks the clinic has been open at the new location, patient visits have increased by 40% compared with the old location, which is closing, Richard Reisman, medical director for the Center for Family Health, said (Klampe, Ventura County Star, 4/3).
Los Angeles has opened Sun Valley Health Clinic, a full-service community clinic, on a middle school campus to provide no- and reduced-cost basic health care services for Sun Valley and San Fernando Valley residents who do not have regular access to medical care, the Los Angeles Times reports. Providers from Northeast Valley Health Corporation and UCLA School of Medicine will staff the clinic.
Officials see the center as a prototype of a care model that, if successful, could be implemented elsewhere. The health center is expected to offer:
- 13 exam rooms;
- Four counseling offices;
- A pharmacy;
- A lab;
- A dental clinic;
- Education and training rooms; and
- Space for the federal Women, Infants and Children program (Covarrubias, Los Angeles Times, 4/3).
On Monday, about 4,000 nurses returned to work at Sutter Health hospitals after a 10-day regional strike, the San Jose Mercury News reports.
Nurses began the strike on March 21 to protest understaffing, health and retirement benefits, and hospital closures in medically underserved areas. Sutter Health said the strike was about increasing the union's membership.
The strikes have not resulted in negotiations for new contracts, although representatives from Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in the East Bay and California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco said the hospitals are open to talks (San Jose Mercury News, 4/1).
The Palomar Pomerado Health district has banned no-cost publications in the lobbies of its medical centers in Escondido and Poway as part of an effort to clean up the lobbies and provide patients with a nicer environment, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
Lyle Davis, editor and publisher of The Paper, said the ban is aimed at his weekly paper because of recent pieces that were critical of the health district and its CEO. District spokesperson Andy Hoang said the district is not singling out Davis' paper (Lou, San Diego Union-Tribune, 3/28).
Inter-Con Security Systems' security guards at Kaiser Permanente facilities in Northern California are planning a 24-hour strike today, according to officials from the Service Employees International Union Local 24/7, the East Bay Business Times reports.
According to the union, about 1,500 security workers have been working to join the union for the last two years (Hogarth, East Bay Business Times, 3/31).
Last week, state health investigators said they found no health violations at St. Agnes Medical Center in a February inspection that followed up on an infection outbreak last year, the Fresno Bee reports.
At least 12 patients at the medical center contracted a life-threatening bacterial infection between January 2007 and September 2007. Three patients died, two of whom likely died as a result of the infections, according to CDC.
Kathleen Billingsley, deputy director at the Department of Public Health's Center for Health Care Quality, said that inspectors "were unable to substantiate any health violations took place," adding that they were unable to determine "whether there was a piece of equipment or anything like that that contributed to the infection rate."
CDC also conducted an inspection of the medical center last year and was unable to find a cause for the infections. The agency identified several possible causes for the infections and made recommendations for improving infection-control policies and procedures.
Hospital officials said that current patients are not at risk and that the center's infection rate returned to normal in late 2007 (Correa/Anderson, Fresno Bee, 3/27).
San Francisco officials on Tuesday released a detailed plan for $887.4 million in renovations to San Francisco General Hospital, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The proposal will go before voters in November.
The renovations, which are necessary to comply with state earthquake safety laws, include a nine-story building with 284 patient beds that will be constructed along the edge of the current hospital campus. The plan also would keep the current structure, which will hold psychiatric beds, clinical laboratories and outpatient facilities.
The plan will go before the Planning Commission on April 10 for public comment. If voters approve the proposal, construction would begin in the summer of 2009, with completion expected in 2015 (Allday, San Francisco Chronicle, 4/2).
A management consulting group on Tuesday outlined three options for the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors to reduce San Joaquin General Hospital's expected $32 million deficit, the Stockton Record reports.
The consulting firm, the Camden Group, submitted options including:
- Maintaining the hospital's current average of 100 to 120 patients per day while reducing staff by the equivalent of 100 full-time jobs, for an immediate savings of $3.2 million;
- Expanding to an average of 140 patients per day while improving staff efficiency, adding a trauma unit and improving the payer mix, which would require investments to expand certain service areas and increase referrals from private physicians; and
- Downsizing the hospital to serve 60 to 80 patients per day and substantially reducing jobs, saving an estimated $14 million in operating expenses (Goldeen, Stockton Record, 4/2).
Last week, Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital officials reversed their decision to close the acute rehabilitation unit at the hospital's Fulton Road campus, the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat reports.
The revised plan could allow some of the 45 acute rehab employees to keep their jobs, according to Katy Hillenmeyer, spokesperson for the hospital.
Under the new plan, the hospital will move at least part of the 15-bed unit to the newly constructed 80-bed wing at the main hospital campus. The unit will remain open at its current location until the move this summer (Payne, Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, 3/27).
Officials at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center and Scripps Mercy Hospital Chula Vista are postponing plans to expand the facilities until after a June 3 vote on a ballot measure that would restrict building heights in the city, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
Officials said that the hospitals are near capacity and that the ballot measure, called Proposition E, could affect hospitals' ability to provide health care for San Diego County residents by limiting facilities' space.
Supporters of the ballot measure question whether the hospitals are serious about moving forward with expansion plans (Mannes, San Diego Union-Tribune, 3/31).
Administrators at Shasta Regional Medical Center said they have lost $2 million in revenue because state prison inmates are being sent to Reno, Nev., for care, rather than to the center, the Redding Record Searchlight reports.
Richard Kirkland, a spokesperson for the California Prison Health Care Receivership, said health care providers at state prisons decide to send inmates to certain facilities based on the availability of hospital bed space, an inmate's condition and hospital specialties.
Kirkland also said prison inmates have been sent to the Reno facility for years (Sabalow, Redding Record Searchlight, 3/27).
Voters in Sonoma Valley on Tuesday will vote on a $45 million bond measure that would pay for renovations at Sonoma Valley Hospital and lay the groundwork for a new medical center, the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat reports.
Residents who live near the site of the proposed medical center are leading the opposition to the ballot measure, which needs two-thirds of the vote to pass (Norberg, Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, 4/1).