California Hospital News Roundup for the Week of December 9, 2011
California Pacific Medical Center, San Francisco
California Pacific Medical Center spends significantly less on care for low-income residents than other private not-for-profit hospitals in San Francisco, according to a report by UC Hastings College of the Law, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
For example, the report found that CPMC spent about four times less on charity care than St. Francis Memorial Hospital, which is about one-third of CPMC's size.
CPMC and its St. Luke's campus had an average annual net income of about $149 million between 2006 and 2010, nearly 12 times the combined annual profit of the other facilities, according to the report.
CPMC spokesperson Kevin McCormack said that last year, the hospital provided more than $15.3 million in charity care -- nearly threefold what it spent in 2007.
According to McCormack, the report is biased because it was prepared at the request of community organizations that have criticized the hospital (Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle, 12/9).
Kaiser Permanente, Kearny Mesa
Last week, Kaiser Permanente announced that it has chosen a 19.5-acre county operations property in Kearny Mesa as the site for its new hospital, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
The property's purchase price is at least $30 million, but it could be higher if Kaiser obtains permits to build a hospital larger than 425,000 square feet. According to county documents, the sale of the property is expected to close Dec. 31, 2013.
Kaiser officials said they expect to build and open a new 350-bed hospital at the Kearny Mesa site by 2018 (Lavelle, San Diego Union-Tribune, 12/2).
Mercy Medical Center, Merced
Mercy Medical Center plans to start using a medical robot that would enable consultations with a neurologist in Sacramento, the Merced Sun-Star reports.
Amanda Lantzy -- accreditation manager and stroke program coordinator at Mercy -- said the robot primarily will be used to treat patients who are presenting symptoms or warning signs of a stroke. If a patient is in need of stroke care, Mercy staff can page a specialist. Within about 15 minutes, a neurologist in Sacramento will be able to assess the patient through the robot's video screen (Amaro, Merced Sun-Star, 12/6).
Napa State Hospital; Metropolitan State Hospital, Norwalk
On Dec. 2, the U.S. Department of Justice asked Chief U.S. District Judge Audrey Collins to prolong federal oversight of two of California's state mental health hospitals -- Napa State Hospital and Metropolitan State Hospital in Norwalk, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The request came on the same day that a 2006 consent judgment expired. The judgment required the state to address unsafe conditions and poor treatment at four mental health hospitals, including Napa State and Metropolitan. The two other hospitals -- Atascadero State Hospital and Patton State Hospital -- were released from federal oversight last month.
In the court filing, DOJ officials said they had uncovered several deficiencies at Napa State and Metropolitan, including improper use of restraints, nursing errors and preventable suicides. The filing asks the judge to extend federal oversight until the two hospitals address the deficiencies. A hearing is set for Jan. 23, 2012 (Romney/Hoeffel, Los Angeles Times, 12/4).
Prime Healthcare Services
Prime purchased the stake in the facility, as well as a share in a real estate business, for about $9 million from North Carolina-based MedCath (Payers & Providers, 12/8). Prime now has an ownership stake in 14 facilities, and Harlingen Medical Center's is its first outside California (Robeznieks, Modern Healthcare, 12/1).
Scripps Health, Sharp Memorial Hospital, San Diego
Scripps Health and Sharp Memorial Hospital have settled separate lawsuits with the San Diego County District Attorney's Office over the improper disposal of hazardous and medical waste, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
Scripps Health -- which operates the Scripps Memorial and Scripps Green hospitals in La Jolla -- and Sharp Memorial had received several citations over a two-year period for improperly handling, moving and storing medical waste at their hospitals and at the Miramar Landfill.
Scripps Health agreed to pay $272,870 in civil penalties and court costs, as well as $16,000 for landfill-inspection equipment. Meanwhile, Sharp Memorial has agreed to pay $102,939 in penalties and court costs and to participate in several environmental programs.
Thomas Papageorge -- head of the Consumer Protection Unit at the district attorney's office -- said that Scripps Health and Sharp Memorial have not admitted wrongdoing and that both organizations have implemented significant changes to improve their handling, storage and disposal of medical waste (Lavelle, San Diego Union-Tribune, 12/7).
UC-San Diego Medical Center
On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against UC-San Diego Medical Center claiming that the hospital discriminated against immigrant employees and job seekers, the AP/San Jose Mercury News reports.
DOJ said the facility required non-citizen job applicants and employees to prove they were eligible to work by demanding excessive documentation (AP/San Jose Mercury News). DOJ said UCSD Medical Center did not require U.S. citizens to produce any specific documents (Greenwald, Business Insurance, 12/6). The lawsuit alleges that the facility engaged in such practices between January 2004 and June 2011 (AP/San Jose Mercury News).
The Immigration and Nationality Act bans employers from placing additional documentation requirements on workers based on citizenship status or national origin, according to DOJ. The lawsuit seeks civil penalties, monetary damages and a court order that prohibits future discrimination.
A UCSD Medical Center spokesperson said that the hospital had not reviewed the complaint but that the facility had been working with DOJ since January to address its concerns and now is in compliance with federal rules. The spokesperson added that no person was denied employment based on the practices (Business Insurance, 12/6).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.