California Hospital News Roundup for the Week of December 22, 2011
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles
Physicians at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center's Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute will be the first to use IBM's Watson supercomputer in a clinical setting, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Manoj Saxena, general manager of IBM's Watson Solutions unit, said the supercomputer will quickly sift through data from clinical trials, electronic health records and medical journals toÂ Â provide doctors with diagnosis and treatment guidance. Health insurance company WellPoint is funding the project at Cedars-Sinai (Lopez, Los Angeles Times, 12/17).
Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula
The grant will help support the hospital's Hospice of the Central Coast program, which offers services that include nursing care, caregiver support and transportation to health care appointments (Salinas Californian, 12/20).
Dominican Hospital, Santa Cruz
A contract between Catholic Healthcare West -- which owns Dominican Hospital -- and UnitedHealthcare is set to expire on Dec. 31, raising concerns among the health plan's policyholders, the Santa Cruz Sentinel reports.
Last month, the insurer sent a notice informing policyholders that if the contract is not renewed by the end of the year, policyholders might need to seek care at other hospitals in UnitedHealthcare's network or pay higher out-of-network rates at Dominican Hospital.
Will Shanley, a spokesperson for UnitedHealthcare, said the insurer hopes to reach a deal before the current contract expires. Mike Lee, a spokesperson for Dominican, said the hospital also hopes to reach an agreement (Gumz, Santa Cruz Sentinel, 12/19).
Marin General Hospital, Greenbrae; Palm Drive Hospital, Sebastopol
The board of the Palm Drive Health Care District has unanimously approved an affiliation agreement between Marin General Hospital in Greenbrae and Palm Drive Hospital in Sebastopol, the Marin Independent Journal reports. The district oversees operations at Palm Drive Hospital.
As part of the agreement, Palm Drive Health Care District will pay Marin General $180,000 annually for management services. In exchange, Marin General will provide physician recruitment, financial planning, marketing and other support services.
Nancy Dobbs -- president of the Palm Drive Health Care District board -- noted that the board selected Marin General because the hospital would best facilitate physician recruitment in the area (Halstead, Marin Independent Journal, 12/20).
Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital
The Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital's board of directors recently voted to extend a contract with the California Nurses Association for another year, the Salinas Californian reports.
The current contract -- scheduled to end in March 2013 -- will be extended to March 2014. As part of the contract, CNA agreed to accept a 2.5% wage increase in March 2012 followed by another 2.5% increase in March 2013, instead of the originally planned 5% wage increase beginning in March 2012 (Salinas Californian, 12/15).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.