California Hospital News Roundup for the Week of August 5, 2011
Department of Veterans Affairs
The Department of Veterans Affairs has released more details about its plans to build a $280 million veterans' medicalÂ center in French Camp, the Stockton Record reports.
According to VA, construction is set to begin in 2014 for the community-based outpatient clinic and the 120-bed community living center. The new facilities are expected to begin operating by early 2018 (Stockton Record, 7/29).
Meanwhile, VA said it plans to double the size of its Stockton clinic from 10,000 square feet to 20,000 square feet through the addition of new buildings. Officials said that within the next few years, the expanded clinic will offer on-site audiology, occupational therapy, physical therapy and other clinical services (Goldeen, Stockton Record, 8/4).
In addition, VA announced plans to build a new community-based outpatient clinic in Fremont to serve veterans in southern Alameda County. Construction of the 80,000 square-foot multispecialty care center is expected to begin in 2014 or 2015, with an expected opening date in early 2018. The new clinic will offer primary care, mental health counseling, rehabilitation services, specialty care clinics and a pharmacy (Dennis, Oakland Tribune, 7/29).
Kaiser Permanente, Stockton
Kaiser Permanente has announced plans to close its Stockton call center as it consolidates its California call center operations into a single location, the Sacramento Business Journal reports.
The consolidation means that 243 employees at the Stockton call center will lose their jobs. Kaiser is working with the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West to transition as many workers as possible into new positions. The health care system said it plans to create 170 new medical coding jobs in Stockton (Robertson, Sacramento Business Journal, 7/28).
Oak Valley Hospital, Oakdale
John Friel, CEO of Oak Valley Hospital, is calling for a letter-writing campaign to urge elected officials to block planned cuts to Medi-Cal reimbursement rates, the Oakdale Leader reports. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.
California's Department of Health Care Services is seeking CMS approval to reduce Medi-Cal rates for certain health care facilities by 10% of the 2008-2009 rates. Friel said Oak Valley's skilled nursing facilities and sub-acute care units would be affected by the planned reduction. In a letter to Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Friel wrote, "Cuts of this magnitude would have a devastating impact on Medi-Cal beneficiaries' access to medically necessary skilled-nursing services" (Paloma, Oakdale Leader, 8/3).
Prime Healthcare Services
California-based Prime Healthcare Services plans to purchase Christ Hospital, a not-for-profit facility based in Jersey City, N.J., the Hudson Reporter reports. The hospital reportedly had been losing as much as $4 million annually (Wright, Hudson Reporter, 7/28).
Peter Kelly, president and CEO of Christ Hospital, said that Prime does not envision the deal as a short-term acquisition (McDonald, Jersey Journal, 7/28). The deal must be approved by New Jersey's Office of the State Attorney General, Department of Health and Senior Services and the State Health Planning Board (Hudson Reporter, 7/28).
St. Joseph Health System, Orange County
On Tuesday, St. Joseph Health System announced that St. Joseph Hospital in Orange and Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo would eliminate a total of 144 jobs through attrition, layoffs and voluntary departures, the Orange County Register reports.
Officials said St. Joseph Hospital is cutting about 109 positions. At Mission Hospital, 22 employees are leaving voluntarily and 13 are being laid off. Officials said the job losses stem from the economic downturn, the federal health reform law and low government reimbursement rates (Milbourn, Orange County Register, 8/3).
Ventura County Medical Center
Ventura County Medical Center is expected to open the county's first pediatric intensive care unit in October, the Ventura County Star reports.
The Harriet H. Samuelsson Foundation provided $500,000 in startup funds for the six-bed unit, which will be named after Samuelsson. The donation will be used to train and certify nurses, and to purchase beds, cribs and ventilators (Wilson, Ventura County Star, 8/2).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.