California Hospital News Roundup for the Week of February 8, 2008
On Monday, three employees of Mercy General Hospital in Sacramento filed a class-action lawsuit against the hospital's parent company, Catholic Healthcare West, alleging workers were denied meal and rest breaks, the Sacramento Bee reports.
The lawsuit, filed in San Francisco Superior Court, seeks four years of back pay for thousands of current and former CHW nurses and medical technicians. The lawsuit did not provide details of the allegations.
CHW said it does not comment on pending litigation (Chan, Sacramento Bee, 2/7).
On Tuesday, Alameda County voters rejected two parcel tax measures that would have helped fund a $700 million expansion of Children's Hospital and Research Center Oakland, the Oakland Tribune reports.
The expansion project would have increased the hospital's capacity from 171 beds to about 250 private patient rooms. The plan also would allow the hospital to meet a 2013 deadline for complying with state building standards for earthquake safety.
The expansion relied on $300 million from either of the $2-per-month county parcel tax measures (Metinko, Oakland Tribune, 2/6).
Financial problems stemming from a Medi-Cal payment error and a Medicare audit forced Kingsburg District Hospital to close its emergency department last week, according to officials, the Fresno Bee reports. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.
There are no plans to reopen the ED, even if the payment disputes are resolved, according to Doug Skubitz, hospital CEO.
Skubitz said Medi-Cal owes the hospital about $275,000 from a payment error, which state officials have acknowledged. The hospital hopes to receive the reimbursement in the next week, according to Skubitz.
Meanwhile, Medicare is withholding reimbursements to the hospital after problems were discovered in an audit. Skubitz said about $142,000 in claims has been withheld since October 2007 (Correa, Fresno Bee, 2/5).
While San Luis Obispo County's four hospitals all provide care for low-income and uninsured patients, the county's two for-profit hospitals supply the majority of care, the San Luis Obispo Tribune reports.
A Tribune analysis of hospital-reported data from 2002 to 2006 found that the county's two for-profit hospitals provide more safety-net care than the two not-for-profit hospitals, which receive tax exemptions for providing charity care.
The for-profit hospitals -- Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center in San Luis Obispo and Twin Cities Community Hospital in Templeton -- are owned by Tenet Healthcare. Catholic Healthcare West owns the not-for-profit facilities: French Hospital Medical Center and Arroyo Grande Community Hospital (Arnquist, San Luis Obispo Tribune, 2/3).
On Tuesday, the Coronado City Council voted to place a citizens initiative on the November ballot that would help fund Sharp Coronado Hospital through a hotel room tax increase, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
Frank Tierney, a former council member who sponsored the ballot measure, estimated the initiative would generate $3.4 million annually that the hospital could use to offset rising operating costs.
The revenue would go to the Coronado Hospital Foundation, a private organization that owns the hospital. City Attorney Morgan Foley contended that the initiative is unconstitutional because it would be a gift of public funds to a private foundation (San Diego Union-Tribune, 2/6).