California Hospital News Roundup for the Week of December 2, 2011
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles
Over the next year, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center plans to close its inpatient and outpatient psychiatry programs, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Hospital officials said patients in the two programs will be transitioned to other facilities. The medical center plans to retain mental health services in its cancer center, emergency department and other clinical units.
Cedars-Sinai also plans to gradually phase out its psychiatry residency program. Officials said they are scaling back the mental health programs because of the hospital's financial situation and changes in the health care industry (Gorman, Los Angeles Times, 12/1).
Chino Valley Medical Center
Chino Valley Medical Center -- which is run by Prime Healthcare Services -- billed Medicare for an unprecedented number of acute heart failure cases from 2008 through 2010, California Watch reports.
During that time period, the hospital's billing patterns suggested that 35.2% of its Medicare patients had acute heart failure, a rate that is six times higher than the state average, according to a California Watch analysis. Prime currently is under federal investigation over allegations that it exaggerated patients' conditions to draw down higher Medicare funds.
Prime has denied wrongdoing. Anthony Glassman, an attorney for Prime, said Chino Valley's heart failure diagnoses were accurate and were made by treating physicians, not hospital officials (Williams et al., California Watch, 11/27).
Desert Regional Medical Center, Palm Springs
Desert Regional Medical Center officials have announced that the facility will assume management of its Comprehensive Cancer Center from Aptium Oncology at the end of the year, the Palm Springs Desert Sun reports.
Aptium is a subsidiary of the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca and has managed the cancer center for about 20 years.
According to Clifford Daniels -- chief development officer at DRMC -- the medical center is taking over management of the cancer center because AstraZeneca is selling Aptium. Daniels noted that no layoffs or service changes are expected as a result of the management shift (Kaufmann, Palm Springs Desert Sun, 11/22).
Grossmont Hospital, La Mesa
The Grossmont Healthcare District is expected to start a $225 million overhaul of Grossmont Hospital in La Mesa next year, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
The hospital's main patient building will be renovated, and a new heart and vascular center will be built that will house three catheterization labs and a multipurpose room. The hospital's five-story east tower also will be renovated.
Funding for the projects will come from Proposition G, a bond measure voters approved in 2006 that increased property taxes in the district by about $40 annually (Schmidt, San Diego Union-Tribune, 11/23).
Kaiser Permanente is teaming up with the Partnership for a Healthier America to increase the number of women who breastfeed their infants at its facilities, Payers & Providers reports.
The goal of the initiative is to reduce the rate of childhood obesity (Payers & Providers, 12/1).
As part of the partnership, Kaiser said that all of its 29 birthing facilities will meet at least one of two breastfeeding standards by the beginning of 2013. Kaiser said it expects its birthing sites to either receive a "Baby Friendly" designation from the World Health Organization and UNICEF or join a Joint Commission program that aims to increase the number of mothers who breastfeed their infants. To meet the standards, Kaiser plans to train staff on lactation and encourage mothers to breastfeed within an hour of giving birth (Rubenstein, Sacramento Bee, 11/30).
Redlands Community Hospital
Redlands Community Hospital is working to improve stroke care by participating in the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association's Get With the Guidelines-Stroke program, the Redlands Daily Facts reports.
As part of the program, the hospital has implemented a system to provide quick treatment for stroke patients when they are admitted to the emergency department. The facility also is working to increase its use of statins and anti-platelet medications to prevent secondary strokes.
The goal of the program is to boost quality of care for stroke patients by improving acute stroke treatment and preventing future stroke and cardiovascular events (Redlands Daily Facts, 11/23).
Scripps Proton Therapy Center, San Diego
Scripps Health and Rady Children's Hospital have announced plans to collaborate on providing advanced proton therapy to pediatric cancer patients at the new Scripps Proton Therapy Center in San Diego, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
The $220 million proton therapy center is expected to be completed in the spring of 2013. The 102,000 square-foot facility will treat about 2,400 pediatric and adult patients annually.
Carl Rossi Jr., the center's medical director, said proton therapy generally is preferred to X-ray radiation for pediatric patients. Compared with X-ray radiation, proton therapy limits damage to surrounding tissue and allows for the use of a more powerful and effective radiation dose (Ignelzi, San Diego Union-Tribune, 11/17).
Southwest Healthcare System, Riverside County
On Wednesday, Ken Rivers -- CEO of Southwest Healthcare System -- commended his staff, state regulators and local officials for helping the company overcome violations that could have led to the closure of Southwest's hospitals, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reports.
The hospitals -- Inland Valley Medical Center in Wildomar and Rancho Springs Medical Center in Murrieta -- previously were on the brink of closure following allegations of poor patient care. However, Anita Gore -- spokesperson for the California Department of Public Health -- said the facilities passed a CMS inspection on Nov. 1. On Nov. 17, Southwest received a letter from DPH indicating that the agency no longer would seek to revoke Southwest's license (Horseman, Riverside Press-Enterprise, 11/30).
St. John's Pleasant Valley Hospital, Camarillo
Officials at St. John's Pleasant Valley Hospital have postponed for six months a decision on whether to close the hospital's obstetrics unit, the Ventura County Star reports.
Laurie Eberst -- president and CEO of Pleasant Valley Hospital and its sister hospital in Oxnard -- said officials are considering closing the unit because of the declining number of births at the hospital. Eberst initially planned to bring the matter before St. John's Community Board of Directors on Dec. 2, until she learned that many physicians support keeping the unit open.
Officials now plan to focus on growing the obstetrics program for six months before revisiting possible closure plans (Gregory, Ventura County Star, 11/18).
Sutter Roseville Medical Center
Sutter Health is adding 15 beds to Sutter Roseville Medical Center's inpatient physician rehabilitation center, the Sacramento Business Journal reports.
As part of the $8.6 million project, Sutter will hire about 20 additional nurses and therapy staff (Robertson, Sacramento Business Journal, 11/25).
UC-Davis Medical Center
UC-Davis Medical Center reported a fiscal year 2010-2011 net income of $117.6 million, up from $69 million in the year prior, the Sacramento Business Journal reports.
The not-for-profit hospital's operating revenue in the last fiscal year rose by more than 13% from $1.1 billion to $1.3 billion.
The rise in profits is attributed in part to the hospital's shift from managed care payments, which provide a set fee, to new contracts that pay fee-for-service rates. This change helped offset a 6.5% decrease in hospital admissions and a 1.9% decline in outpatient visits in the last fiscal year (Robertson, Sacramento Business Journal, 11/25).
UCLA Health System
David Feinberg -- UCLA Health System's CEO and associate vice chancellor for health sciences -- said that creating a smoke-free environment is an extension of the health system's mission to help patients by "improving health, alleviating suffering and delivering acts of kindness."
Timothy Fong -- associate professor of psychiatry at UCLA and a member of UCLA's smoke-free transition team -- said that the policy is part of an educational effort and is not punitive. He added that employees caught smoking could be reprimanded, but no citations or fines will be issued (Herrera, Santa Monica Daily Press, 11/18).
Ventura County Medical Center
Ventura County Medical Center and its affiliated Santa Paula Hospital have taken steps to address concerns raised by officials from CMS and the state Department of Public Health, according to Robert Gonzalez, director of the county's Health Care Agency, the Ventura County Star reports.
In late September, regulators warned hospital officials that they had until Dec. 28 to address the issues, which included unsanitary conditions in operating rooms, and a failure to meet standards related to quality assessment, nursing and medical records. If hospital officials did not resolve the issues, CMS could have terminated Medicare and Medicaid payments, which together account for more than 70% of hospital revenue.
DPH officials recently conducted a follow-up survey to check on the progress of resolving the issues.
Jack Cheevers, a CMS spokesperson, said the agency is reviewing the survey results (Wilson, Ventura County Star, 11/22).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.