California Hospital News Roundup for the Week of April 8, 2011
Community Hospital of Huntington Park
A federal court has ruled that Avanti Health System must recognize and negotiate with the union representing registered nurses at Community Hospital of Huntington Park, Fierce Healthcare reports.
After assuming ownership of Community Hospital in March 2010, Avanti Health System said it would not recognize or bargain with the California Nurses Association. The union filed charges against the health system, arguing that an inability to bargain could compromise care. In the recent ruling, the federal court said Avanti must recognize and bargain with CNA because the majority of Community Hospital's staff worked for the hospital before Avanti assumed ownership (Caramenico, Fierce Healthcare, 4/1).
Doctors Medical Center, San Pablo
On Tuesday, Contra Costa County supervisors agreed to advance a $10 million loan to Doctors Medical Center while calling for the hospital to address its chronic budget problems, the Contra Costa Times reports.
The 247-bed hospital will need to repay the loan over four years with $1.5 million in interest. The hospital hopes to use the loan to draw down as much as $10 million in federal matching funds. In accepting the loan, Doctors Medical Center has agreed to modify its governing structure by establishing a new, seven-member board to oversee daily operations at the hospital (Kleffman, Contra Costa Times, 4/5).
John Muir Medical Center, Walnut Creek
On Sunday morning, John Muir Medical Center is scheduled to begin moving patients to its new $612 million Tom and Billie Long Patient Care Tower, the Contra Costa Times reports.
The new tower will have 242 beds, including 230 beds in private rooms. Many of the private rooms will include an area for a family member to spend the night. The addition of the tower will increase the hospital's total capacity from 330 to 416 beds, with the ability to add 100 more beds if a natural disaster occurs. The new tower also features a rooftop helicopter landing pad, expanded preoperative areas and a floor for orthopedics and rehabilitation (Kleffman, Contra Costa Times, 3/31).
Kaiser Permanente South Los Angeles Medical Offices
The new $10 million Kaiser Permanente South Los Angeles Medical Offices is scheduled to open to patients on Monday, KPCC's "KPCC News" reports.
The 15,000 square-foot facility was constructed to serve about 80,000 Kaiser Permanente members in South Los Angeles. The new building includes examination rooms, medical offices and a pharmacy. The campus will provide various primary care services and health classes (Moore, "KPCC News," KPCC, 4/1).
Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center
On Monday, Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center opened its helipad to allow hospital workers to provide care for trauma patients more quickly, the Sacramento Business Journal reports.
The new helipad is expected to accommodate between five and 10 air ambulance landings monthly. Medical helicopters will transfer patients from a region that extends east to Jackson, west to Vacaville and south to Stockton (Robertson, Sacramento Business Journal, 4/5).
Loma Linda University Medical Center-Murrieta
California health officials have decided to re-inspect the new $211 million Loma Linda University Medical Center-Murrieta, further delaying the official opening of the hospital, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reports.
Al Lundeen -- deputy director of the Department of Public Health's Office of Public Affairs -- said DPH finished a four-day inspection of the 106-bed facility two weeks ago, but will re-inspect it later this month. Lundeen said it was "not uncommon" for DPH to order re-inspections prior to hospital openings.
Kathryn Stiles, spokesperson for the Murrieta hospital, previously said that the facility could start treating patients within 48 hours after receiving approval to open (Hill, Riverside Press-Enterprise, 4/2).
Oak Knoll Naval Hospital, Oakland
On Friday, explosive specialists plan to set charges to implode Oak Knoll Naval Hospital, the Oakland Tribune reports.
The 11-story facility was formally decommissioned in 1996 at a time when several military bases were closing across the U.S. At an auction in 2005, the federal government sold the 186-acre property for $100.5 million to SunCal, a developer that initially planned to build 960 homes. However, SunCal halted its plans after its financial partner filed for bankruptcy in 2008. Future development of the property remains uncertain (Burt, Oakland Tribune, 4/4).
San Joaquin Community Hospital, Bakersfield
U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner recently announced that San Joaquin Community Hospital has paid $734,096 to settle technical violations of a federal physician self-referral law, the Sacramento Business Journal reports.
The violations occurred between 2006 and 2009 and were related to contracts with physicians for medical directorships and for physicians leasing work space at the hospital. Jarrod McNaughton, spokesperson for SJCH, said the hospital is required to renew the contracts annually but failed to do so.
After discovering the lapses, the hospital reported them to the federal government and corrected the errors, McNaughton said. The settlement is not an admission of liability by the hospital, according to the Business Journal (Robertson, Sacramento Business Journal, 3/31).
San Ramon Regional Medical Center
On April 18, San Ramon Regional Medical Center is scheduled to open its expanded emergency department and remodeled clinical lab, the San Francisco Business Times reports.
Construction for the $10.7 million, 8,900 square-foot expansion is expected to be completed next week. The expansion will increase the number of ED beds from nine to 16. The 123-bed hospital is undergoing a larger $22 million upgrade and expansion project that is expected to be completed next year (Rauber, San Francisco Business Times, 4/6).
Seton Medical Center, Daly City
After eliminating 78 jobs last year, Seton Medical Center has filed a plan with California's Employment Development Department to cut 104 additional positions by April 12, the San Francisco Business Times reports.
State law requires large employers to provide 60 days' notice before eliminating 50 or more positions. The planned job eliminations would affect 54 staff nurses, 10 senior licensed vocational nurses and other hospital staff. Beth Volz, spokesperson for the hospital, said, "Last year, we embarked on strategies to right-size to adjust to our (reduced patient) volume." She added, "This is part of those efforts" (Rauber, San Francisco Business Times, 4/1).
Stanford Hospital & Clinics and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital, Palo Alto
Nurses at Stanford Hospital & Clinics and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital have reached a tentative deal with hospital officials on a new labor contract, the San Jose Mercury News reports.
The Committee for Recognition of Nursing Achievement -- a union that represents about 2,700 nurses at the hospitals -- has been engaged in labor negotiations with hospital officials forÂ more than one year. The nurses' previous contract expired in March 2010. Under the new contract, nurses would receive a 4% pay raise through April 1, 2012, that would be retroactive to March 31, 2010 (Samuels, San Jose Mercury News, 4/5).
Sutter Amador Hospital, Jackson
On Wednesday,Â an independent health physicist conducted tests atÂ Sutter Amador Hospital and confirmed that radiation readings were at normal levels, the AP/San Jose Mercury NewsÂ reports. The physicist also determined that radiation shields in the hospital's radiology department were intact (AP/San Jose Mercury News, 4/7).
Pediatric clinic workers at the hospitalÂ recently expressed concernÂ that radiation from the first-floor radiology department had caused health issues among employees. The pediatric clinic is located above the radiology department. The hospital temporarily relocated its pediatric clinic while it investigated employee concerns about radiation exposureÂ (Kawahara, Sacramento Bee, 4/5).
Universal Health Services, Temecula
On Tuesday, Universal Health Services President Marc Miller said he is "very certain" that UHS will break ground this year on Temecula's first hospital, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reports.
In February, the Temecula City Council approved UHS' proposal to downsize the first phase of its planned hospital from 170 beds to 140 beds. However, the council also put pressure on UHS for not breaking ground on the hospital project, which first was approved in 2006.
The city council is requiring UHS to post a $5 million performance bond and pour building foundations for the first phase of the hospital by February 2012. If UHS fails to meet those goals, it could lose the bond and all project approvals (Horseman, Riverside Press-Enterprise, 4/5).
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Stockton
Stockton has agreed to provide the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs with sewer and water utilities if the agency selects a location in French Camp for a future veterans' medical facility, the Stockton Record reports.
VA officials previously said they would not close on land for a $280 million veterans' nursing home and outpatient clinic until access to utilities was guaranteed. Stockton City Council members said they would provide the utilities only for a VA facility, not for an unspecified "medical/professional campus" as requested by the developer of the proposed site. VA also is considering midtown's Stockton University Park as a possible location for its future medical facility (Thigpen/Johnson, Stockton Record, 4/1).
Valley Medical Center, Santa Clara County
The Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office could assume control of private security staff at Valley Medical Center, the San Jose Mercury News reports.
Under the proposal, a sheriff's lieutenant and a sergeant would replace the VMC staff currently responsible for the 43 security personnel at the county hospital. The sheriff's office would be responsible for the daily performance, discipline and supervision of protective service officers and administrators. Supporters of the proposal say the shift in authority could help security personnel respond faster to public safety issues at the hospital (Gomez, San Jose Mercury News, 4/3).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.