California Hospital News Roundup for the Week of February 3, 2012
Prime Healthcare Services
Prime Healthcare Services has withdrawn its bid to purchase the New Jersey-based Christ Hospital, the Hudson Reporter reports.
According to the Reporter, recent investigations into Prime's billing practices let to scrutiny of the health care system's bid to purchase the hospital in Jersey City for $15.7 million (Wright, Hudson Reporter, 2/1).
A spokesperson for Prime declined to comment and said any information would have to come from Christ Hospital. Officials at Christ Hospital could not be reached for comment (McDonald, Jersey Journal, 2/1).
Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System
Two outgoing executives -- CFO John Fletcher and COO Bev Ranzenberger -- will receive supplemental retirement payments of more than $1 million in addition to about $100,000 in annual pension payments.
In addition, outgoing Chief Medical Officer David Perrott will receive a one-time retirement payment of $370,000 and annual pension payments of $50,000, while outgoing Vice President of Business Development Liz Lorenzi will receive a one-time retirement payment of $357,000 and annual pension payments of $54,000.
Last year, the hospital faced scrutiny after the Times reported that gave about $4 million in supplemental retirement payments and more than $100,000 in annual pension payments to its retiring CEO Samuel Downing (Allen, "L.A. Now," Los Angeles Times, 1/30).
San Gorgonio Memorial Healthcare District, Banning
The San Gorgonio Memorial Healthcare District unanimously has decided to hold a special election to let voters decide whether to extend an existing $49 annual parcel tax for 10 years, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reports.
Revenue from the parcel tax supports emergency medical care in the public health care district, which manages San Gorgonio Memorial Hospital. Mark Turner, CEO of the hospital, said the tax would help generate about $1.7 million in annual revenue.
For the parcel tax to be extended beyond its June 30 expiration date, 67% voters would need to approve the measure. Voters will receive ballots in early April and will have until May to return them (Waldner, Riverside Press-Enterprise, 1/31).
Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, San Jose
Four physicians have filed a lawsuit against Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, alleging that they were harassed and forced out of their jobs after expressing concern about patient safety issues, FierceHealthcare reports.
The lawsuit claims that hospital officials:
- Ignored physicians' complaints about safety issues;
- Harassed the physicians after they brought their concerns to county officials; and
- Used the peer review process to force the physicians out of their jobs.
Nancy Johnson -- SCVMC's infection prevention manager -- said the hospital encourages employees to speak out if they observe someone violating safety guidelines (Cheung, FierceHealthcare, 1/31).
Sequoia Hospital, Redwood City
A Sequoia Hospital contractor mistakenly posted the names and Social Security numbers of 391 former and current hospital employees on a public website, where the data remained for four years, the San Jose Mercury News reports.
The information was removed on Dec. 2, 2011, after the hospital discovered the breach. The hospital did not specify where the data were posted.
According to Sequoia Hospital CEO Glenna Vaskelis, an employee of the professional services firm Towers Watson posted the data in October 2007. Vaskelis said the information "was not prominently displayed," but could have been found through a "targeted Internet search." Hospital officials said no employees have reported being defrauded because of the breach.
A Towers Watson representative said that the firm regrets the incident and that it no longer employs the worker who posted the data (Kinney, San Jose Mercury News, 1/26).
Sharp HealthCare, San Diego
According to federal court filings, Sharp HealthCare is seeking $614,860 in restitution from Theresa Erickson, a lawyer who in August 2011 pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud for orchestrating a scheme that skirted California's surrogacy laws, U-T San Diego reports.
Attorneys for the health care system said the restitution amount represents the amount that Sharp HealthCare lost on seven births from surrogates who worked for Erickson's business. Sharp HealthCare claims that Erickson signed the surrogates up for a public insurance program by falsely claiming that they were California residents, but then failed to cover the health care costs associated with the birth or care of the infants.
The health care system noted that the seven births incurred $850,616 in medical costs, but that it negotiated $235,746 in pay from the families adopting the infants (Moran, U-T San Diego, 1/29).
Sutter Medical Center of Santa Rosa
The agreement would give registered nurses a 7% pay increase over 30 months and change medical leave, seniority rights and educational leave policies (Verel, North Bay Business Journal, 2/2). The pact also contains provisions relating to workplace safety.
Nurses will vote on the new contract Tuesday.
If approved, the agreement would be valid through June 30, 2014 (Espinoza, Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 2/2).
UC-San Diego Health System
On Tuesday, UC-San Diego Health System finalized its $18 million purchase of the Las Vegas-based Nevada Cancer Institute, which filed for bankruptcy last year, U-T San Diego reports.
UCSD Health System and the UCSD Medical Group physician practice used their reserve funds to buy the cancer institute's 142,000 square-foot building, its medical practice and its contracts, including clinical trials.
John Stobo -- senior vice president for health sciences at the University of California -- said the deal does not reflect a trend of the UC system purchasing out-of-state real estate (Lavelle, U-T San Diego, 1/31).
Valley Health System, Riverside
Last week, Orange County attorney Gregory Petersen filed a lawsuit alleging that Valley Health System's board of directors overstepped its authority in determining how pension funds would be distributed to plan participants, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reports. Enrollees in the pension plan had been VHS employees before the health system sold its hospitals in Hemet and Menifee in 2010.
At a December 2011 board meeting, VHS officials announced that the pension plan's $51 million value would not be sufficient to provide pension benefits to all plan participants. Officials said they would adjust the planned pension distributions to allocate:
- About $47.5 million to about 600 retirees who already have started receiving benefits;
- About $3.5 million to about 450 participants who were age 55 or older but were not receiving benefits when the plan was terminated; and
- No payouts to about 525 people who were younger than age 55 when the plan was terminated.
The lawsuit claims that VHS officials violated the California Pension Protection Act of 1992 and the state constitution when they changed the planned pension payouts.
John Marshall -- an attorney for the public hospital district -- said the board of directors would not comment on the lawsuit (Wesson, Riverside Press-Enterprise, 1/31).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.