California Hospital News Roundup for the Week of December 16, 2011
Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, Colton
Last week, the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 to reject a proposal to ban smoking throughout Arrowhead Regional Medical Center's entire campus, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reports.
The ban would have applied to all sidewalks, streets, parking lots, open spaces and cars on the hospital's grounds. ARMC already bans smoking inside its facilities. The supervisors who voted against the proposal said the smoking ban would have been overly restrictive.
Patrick Petre, director of ARMC, said he plans to modify the proposal and put a new version of the smoking ban before the board early next year (Ghori, Riverside Press-Enterprise, 12/10).
Marin General Hospital, Greenbrae
On Wednesday, registered nurses at Marin General Hospital approved a three-year contract with the Marin Healthcare District, the Marin Independent Journal reports.
Under the new contract, nurses will receive a 3% annual pay increase and more influence over staffing issues. In addition, the contract establishes new workplace safety protocols for nurses and patients (Halstead, Marin Independent Journal, 12/15).
Napa State Hospital
The McAlister Institute recently received a state license to operate a short-term residential and detoxification center on the grounds of Napa State Hospital, the Vallejo Times-Herald reports.
The institute is replacing Project 90, which offered similar services for the past several years. Jeanne McAlister, founder and CEO of the McAlister Institute, said the new center has 10 detoxification beds and 20 beds for short-term residential needs (Raskin-Zrihen, Vallejo Times-Herald, 12/13).
Prime Healthcare Services
Two former Prime Healthcare Services medical coders recently said FBI agents have approached them to discuss Prime's billing procedures, California Watch reports.
According to a California Watch investigation, Prime has a pattern of billing Medicare for rare and serious medical conditions that often generate bonus payments for hospitals.
Edward Barrera, a spokesperson for Prime, said that the hospital system is not aware of any FBI investigation but that "any scrutiny will show that our hospitals are committed to following all state and federal laws and regulations" (Jewett, California Watch, 12/13). An FBI spokesperson declined to confirm or deny any investigation of Prime (Edwards, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, 12/13).
San Joaquin General Hospital, French Camp
San Joaquin General Hospital is moving forward in its efforts to become the county's sole designated trauma center by June 2013, the Stockton Record reports.
Last week, the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors approved the hospital's plan to spend $2 million to hire staff and purchase equipment in an effort to scale up its ability to provide trauma care. San Joaquin currently is the only California countyÂ without an official plan for routing trauma care patients, but officials are working to develop such a plan by June 2012 (Johnson, Stockton Record, 12/13).
Southwest Healthcare System
On Friday, Southwest Healthcare System plans to move obstetrics staff from Inland Valley Medical Center in Wildomar to Rancho Springs Medical Center in Murrieta, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reports.
Southwest said it is consolidating obstetrics services at Rancho Springs' Women's Center to improve care and free up more space at the Inland Valley facility. The Women's Center, which opened in March 2011, has 24 private postpartum rooms, 17 labor and delivery rooms and two operating rooms for caesarean sections.
Brian Connors, director of marketing at Southwest, said Inland Valley Medical Center still will be able to provide labor and delivery services in emergency situations (Horseman, Riverside Press-Enterprise, 12/9).
Ventura County Medical Center
CMS recently informed Ventura County Medical Center that it has passed a state inspection and can continue to receive reimbursement for delivering care to Medicare beneficiaries, the Ventura County Star reports.
Last summer, state and federal regulators identified several deficiencies at VCMC's main campus and its affiliated Santa Paula Hospital. CMS said it would terminate payments to the two campuses on Dec. 28 unless they corrected the deficiencies.
In November, state Department of Public Health officials conducted a follow-up survey and found that Ventura County Medical Center now is in compliance with CMS standards. The clearance means that the two campuses also are eligible for reimbursement from Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program (Wilson, Ventura County Star, 12/10).
Washington Hospital, Fremont
Washington Hospital Healthcare System recently completed work on a new central utility plant at Washington Hospital in Fremont, the San Francisco Business Times reports.
The 37,000 square-foot plant provides the hospital with hot water, steam and medical gases such as oxygen. The plant -- which is expected to continue functioning during a major earthquake or power outage -- is part of the hospital's estimated $300 million expansion and seismic safety upgrade project (Rauber, San Francisco Business Times, 12/9).
The new utility plant was funded in part by a $190 million bond measure that voters approved in 2004 (Sibley Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal, 12/9).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.